Rees-Mogg acknowledges backbench inflation concerns over Sunak

‘We have failed’: Jacob Rees-Mogg apologises for Conservative record on migration

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has apologised for the Conservative Party’s “failure” to deliver on its net migration pledges.

It comes after the Office for National Statistics revealed yesterday that net migration hit a new peak of 745,000 in the year to December 2022.

The figures published on Thursday revised up previous estimates for net migration for 2022 from 606,000 to 745,000. The ONS said in the year to June net migration fell back to 672,000.

No 10 said yesterday that migration was “far too high” but added it was acting to bring it down.

Sir Jacob, a former Cabinet minister, told his GB News programme: “First of all an apology. Along with many other Tory MPs, I stood in 2010 on a manifesto to cut migration to the tens of thousands. 

“We have failed, and it is now cumulatively in the millions.”

In 2010, David Cameron, now Lord Cameron, pledged to get net migration below 100,000 — a commitment that has never been met.

In the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto also promised to bring overall numbers down, albeit without setting a specific target.

Sir Jacob continued: “The Office for National Statistics recorded a record-breaking figure of 606,000 for net migration in 2022. But the reality is worse. The 2022 figure has been revised upwards to an even more unsustainable 745,000. That’s an addition of 139,000 people that the Government hasn’t accounted for.”

It comes as a slew of Conservative MPs call for more action to bring down migration.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman, who was sacked from her cabinet role last week, said the record figures were “a slap in the face to the British public who have voted to control and reduce migration at every opportunity”.

She said: “The pressure on housing, the NHS, schools, wages, and community cohesion, is unsustainable. When do we say: enough is enough?

“Brexit gave us the tools. It’s time to use them”, she added.

The New Conservatives group described the issue as “do or die” for the party.

“Each of us made a promise to the electorate. We don’t believe that such promises can be ignored”, the group, co-chaired by Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger, said. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the new ONS figures “shockingly high”, adding that net migration represented “a failure not just of immigration, but also of asylum and of the economy”.

The SNP’s home affairs spokeswoman Alison Thewliss said: “The Westminster obsession with net migration figures just strengthens the need for Scotland to have the full powers of independence and control over migration.

“The Tories are simply hiding the fact the UK government is failing to attract the talent we need in key sectors to boost our economy and NHS through their obsession with these figures.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.