Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

May cautious on net migration target

Judging by how happy she is to talk about the case for remaining within it, Theresa isn’t expecting a big rebellion on the European Arrest Warrant later today. She may have driven down some of the numbers by not talking about the measure in the motion that’s before the Commons, but really it’s a combination of her behind the scenes talks with MPs to persuade them she has secured reform and a desire on the part of backbenchers not to make the story about Tory revolts when things are going so badly for Labour that’s swung it. There is, as ever, internal Conservative grumbling that the rebel whips haven’t been sufficiently well- organised. But May herself seems to have gained a few more long-term fans in the past week or so as she’s worked to quell this rebellion, which is astonishing given the other problems she’s been struggling to get a hold on, from asylum processing backlogs to the child abuse inquiry.

But where May was considerably less comfortable was on promises her party had taken and might take on big issues affecting her portfolio. She was noticeably reluctant to describe the net migration target as anything more than an aim and she stuck to the Prime Minister’s slightly old line about being confident a renegotiation would get the changes Britain needed. That net migration target was once a key sign that May had a grip on the Home Office, perhaps unfairly given the target itself is flawed, but important nonetheless. She will have to work even harder with backbench colleagues to ensure they’re clear that none of this is her fault.

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