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Cameron warned that his immigration pledge is "pie in the sky" if he can't control arrivals from the EU

By Tim Montgomerie
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I recently noted that the Tory leadership regards the control of immigration as one of its four most important objectives. Data featured prominently in this morning's press underlines the challenge that still needs to be met. Net immigration into Britain in the year up to September 2010 (before Coalition policies had been introduced) was 242,000. 586,000 people arrived to live and work in Britain and 344,000 departed these shores (more in the Mail).

Despite the protestations of big business much of the immigration into Britain is not high-skill. The FT (£) notes that the percentage of low skill jobs held by foreign born workers has risen from 9% in 2002 to nearly 21% today. The Coalition will struggle to control this trend because most of these low skill workers come from within the European Union and are obviously not covered by the Coalition pledge to cap immigration from outside of the EU. The Sun decides that David Cameron's pledge to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands looks like "pie in the sky". It urges the PM to rethink his migration policies:

"The Government's migrants cap only applies to non-EU countries. Arrivals from new East European EU members are shooting up and we are powerless to intervene. Most are industrious and seeking better lives for their families. But services such as schools, housing, hospitals and transport are being overwhelmed. Back to the drawing board, Mr Cameron."

The data confirms the overall failure of the Blair and Brown governments to provide jobs for the lower income Britons that Labour governments are supposed to serve:

"Across all categories, UK-born workers have fallen by 223,000 over the past decade, while foreign-born workers have risen by 1.7m. Migrants from eastern Europe are concentrated in low-skill posts, whereas the extra 1.01m from non-EU countries are mainly in middle and upper categories."

Green Damian Home Office Immigration minister Damian Green issued the following statement:

"These statistics show that immigration was out of control thanks to the old system. That is why we have already introduced radical changes to drive the numbers down and we will shortly be consulting on a range of new measures."

Ultimately you have to conclude, however, that addressing this problem isn't primarily the responsibility of Theresa May or Mr Green, the Home Office ministers, but Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove. Welfare Secretary IDS needs to wield the stick so that Britons on welfare take work when it is on offer. Gove meanwhile deploys the carrot; equipping the next generation of Britons with the skills necessary to succeed in the labour market.


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