Conservatives propose capping visas in effort to cut immigration

The Conservatives have announced plans for a new annual cap on visas to ensure immigration would fall each year over the next parliament.

More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the Channel and immigration has become a key campaign battleground.

The proposed plan would give Parliament a direct role in setting levels of migration, with MPs having a vote on the number.

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Rishi Sunak on the Border Agency cutter HMC Seeker during a visit to Dover (Yui Mok/PA)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We have taken bold action to cut the number of people coming to this country. The plan is working but migration levels are still too high, so we are going further.

“Labour’s migrant amnesty will make the UK a global magnet for illegal immigrants and they have no plan to reduce net migration, while we have a clear plan to stop the boats and put a legal cap on numbers.

“The Conservatives are the only party that is willing take the bold action needed to cut immigration figures.”

The annual cap would be imposed on the number of visas that can be granted to those coming to the UK on work or family routes.

Temporary work routes, such as seasonal agricultural workers, would not fall within the cap.

Ministers would ask the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to recommend the level of the annual cap, and the government would then consider the advice and put forward a proposal to Parliament for a vote.

The Tories say they would inform the committee that their objective is to get migration down to sustainable levels, for levels to fall year-on-year over the next parliament, and that they must consider both the costs and benefits of migration.

The MAC would consult business, the NHS, local authorities and public services and provide a recommendation.

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(PA Graphics)

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the proposed cap on work and family visas is a “meaningless announcement from a Tory party which has trebled net migration since the last election despite promising to bring it down”.

She said: “All they are doing now is rehashing failed announcements from David Cameron and Theresa May, while doing nothing to tackle the skills shortages and their failures in the economy and immigration system which have pushed net migration up.

“Why should anyone take seriously a promise the Tories have already repeatedly broken?

“Labour’s plan to bring net migration down will link the immigration system with new mandatory training and workforce plans for British workers, and stop rogue employers hiring from abroad.”