Fraser Nelson

Don’t blame Theresa May – she did her bit. The problem is immigration from the EU

Don't blame Theresa May – she did her bit. The problem is immigration from the EU
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Theresa May is getting some stick this morning because she has admitted the obvious: that immigration is never going to get below the 'tens of thousands' target that David Cameron stupidly agreed to in opposition. She can only control immigration from outside the EU which she has successfully reduced to its lowest levels for about 15 years. But she has been blown off course by immigration not by the Slavs but Western Europe - Italians, Portuguese, Spanish coming here to flee the sclerosis of their debt-addled high-regulation economies and partake in the job-creation miracle underway in Britain. National Insurance registration data indicates that the number of Polish immigrants plunged, while immigration from the EU-15 soared. (Some examples below).

I interviewed Mrs May at the last Tory conference and she would not, then, concede that the immigration target would not be met - although as the above graph show it is inevitable. I imagine she knew that headlines like today's Telegraph splash (right) would arrive at some point.

The very existence of the 'tens of thousands' target shows that the Prime Minister was not serious about immigration. Why agree to a 'net immigration' target - i.e., one that includes how many Brits emigrate? If Cameron is doing his job, more will want to stay (as has proven to be the case). He only has control over non-EU immigration, and should only ever have made promises in that area. And thanks to Mrs May, he'd have kept them.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.