Ministers face ‘devastating consequences’ unless net migration is slashed

Ministers were yesterday warned they face “devastating consequences” unless they slash net migration from the record high of 600,000.

Think tank Migration Watch said “runaway legal net migration is roughly ten times” the number of asylum seekers who have arrived by crossing the Channel.

This could lead to problems with housing, school places, GP appointments and social integration, they fear.

The latest ONS figures showed net migration rose to 606,000 in the year to December 2022, driven by a rise in the number arriving in the UK from outside of the EU.

The warning from Migration Watch comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is battling to end the Channel migrant crisis. Some 23,000 people have reached the UK in small, dangerously flimsy boats so far this year.

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Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK said: “As this polling implies, there isn’t much trust in either of the main parties to get the balance on immigration right. We have long known of the public’s frustration with the government’s failure to deal with the small boats and to remove those crossing the Channel illegally.

“However, it is also clear that there is little confidence in Labour coming up with a solution.

“Meanwhile, runaway legal net migration is roughly ten times the number of Channel crossers and yet neither party is keen to discuss this. The present level of net migration of 600,000 will have devastating consequences on the whole country if it is allowed to continue.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is expected today (Wednesday) to outline plans to set up a cross-border cell in the National Crime Agency.

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The party will pay for this by scrapping the Government’s flagship Rwanda deportation scheme.

The Conservatives consider the plan a key element of the Illegal Migration Bill and the bid to stop the boats.

Labour also wants the NCA to send more officers to smuggling hotspots around the World to dismantle the brutal criminal networks risking tens of thousands of lives every year.

They will also pay for more asylum caseworkers – a move the Government has also made.

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