Braverman to challenge under pressure Sunak to ‘get overall immigration numbers down’

Suella Braverman will be among those gathering at the National Conservatism Conference today, where she will challenge the prime minister to deliver the Conservative manifesto promise to reduce net migration so that Britain does not forget how to “do things for ourselves”.

The home secretary will use the speech to warn her cabinet colleagues against relaxing immigration visa rules in a bid to boost growth.

Taking on her critics, she will argue that “it’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration is unsustainable”.

The National Conservatism Conference follows a similar meeting of grassroots Conservatives in Bournemouth. The conference by the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), held over the weekend and organised primarily by backers of former prime minister Boris Johnson, also heard criticism of Mr Sunak and the party leadership.

The PM is grappling with signs of discontent after poor local election results, feelings which have intensified after changes to the retained EU law bill, the plan to scrap 1000s of EU laws by the end of the year, were announced last week. 

Ms Braverman will tell the National Conservatism Conference: “I voted and campaigned for Brexit because I wanted Britain to control migration. So that we all have a say on what works for our country.

“High-skilled workers support economic growth. Fact. But we need to get overall immigration numbers down. And we mustn’t forget how to do things for ourselves.

“There is no good reason why we can’t train up enough HGV drivers, butchers or fruit pickers. Brexit enables us to build a high-skilled, high-wage economy that is less dependent on low-skilled foreign labour.

“That was our 2019 manifesto pledge and what we must deliver”.

The Conservatives made a manifesto pledge in 2019 to bring down net migration, but analysis now suggests that it could top one million this year.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former cabinet minister also speaking on Monday, will say: “Rishi Sunak made a specific promise to scrap thousands of EU laws. He has broken it. This is unfortunate, as one of his perceived virtues is his trustworthiness and the surrender to the blob risks exposing the government to ridicule. It also risks making us poorer”.

Priti Patel, the former home secretary, used a speech over the weekend at the CDO conference to blame bad local election losses on the prime minister’s leadership. 

During a round of interviews on Sunday, the energy security and net zero secretary Grant Shapps admitted Mr Sunak’s five pledges for the year are “difficult” to hit.

Mrs Braverman will also say in her speech: “It’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration is unsustainable in terms of housing supply, service and community relations.

“Nor is it bigoted to say that too many people come here illegally and claim asylum, and we have insufficient accommodation for them.

“I’m not embarrassed to say that I love Britain. No true Conservative is. It’s not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders.

“I reject the Left’s argument that it is hypocritical for someone from an ethnic minority to know these facts; to speak these truths.

“My parents came here through legal and controlled migration. They spoke the language. They threw themselves into the community, embraced British values. When they arrived they signed up to be part of our shared project because the UK meant something to them. Integration was part of the quid pro quo”.

The government’s approach to stopping illegal migration came under fresh criticism in recent days, after the Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in to label ministers’ plans “morally unacceptable and politically impractical”.

It came during a House of Lords debate on the illegal migration bill, which aims to ensure that people arriving in the UK without permission will be detained and swiftly removed to a country deemed safe such as Rwanda.