The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, is expected to deliver a speech at the National Conservatism Conference in which she will call for a reduction in immigration to the UK. In her speech, she will argue that it is “not xenophobic” to describe mass migration as “unsustainable” and to advocate for its reduction. She will also emphasize the importance of training UK citizens for jobs that have traditionally been filled by migrant workers, such as lorry drivers and fruit pickers.
Ms. Braverman’s speech comes ahead of the release of net migration figures for 2022, which are predicted to reach record highs. She will remind the government of their 2019 election pledge to curb migration, and urge her colleagues to consider reducing immigration numbers rather than relaxing immigration rules to solve immediate shortages. Her speech is expected to set out a direction of travel for immigration policy and warn colleagues who may argue against reducing numbers.
The government has recently focused on tackling illegal migration, specifically small boat crossings. The home secretary’s speech will highlight the need to control legal migration and reduce overall immigration numbers. Ms. Braverman will argue that Brexit enables the UK to build a high-skilled, high-wage economy that is less dependent on low-skilled foreign labour.
Visa rules have been relaxed or adjusted in some sectors in recent years to address worker shortages, but Ms. Braverman believes that the UK should train its own workers instead. She will also argue that controlling immigration is not racist and that she loves Britain.
The net migration figure for 2022 is estimated to be at least 700,000, driven in part by the Ukraine resettlement scheme and an increase in people coming to the UK to work and study from outside the EU. By delivering this speech now, Ms. Braverman is getting her pitch in first before those figures are released.
In addition to her remarks on immigration, Ms. Braverman is expected to reject the left’s argument that it is hypocritical for someone from an ethnic minority to call for reduced immigration. She will also reject reports that Education Secretary Gillian Keegan had watered down proposals to restrict dependents of students and reduced the time foreign students can stay in the UK after finishing their courses. The conference will be attended by senior ministers, Tory MPs, and right-wing commentators, including Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Lord Frost.