Rishi Sunak refuses to put figure on what he wants net migration to fall to

Prime Minister tackles questions on recent immigration figures

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has refused to say how low he wants immigration to fall, merely saying he wants numbers to come down.

Appearing on the This Morning sofa, Mr Sunak refused to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps by putting a numerical target on how low immigration should fall, merely repeating that he believes it must come down.

He appeared on the ITV show shortly after the Home Office confirmed that net immigration into the UK in 2022 hit a record 606,000.

Breaking down the figures, immigration for the year hit 1.2 million, but the number came in lower than predicted thanks to a higher-than-expected number of those migrating out of the country, which stood at 557,000.

The figure also includes 114,000 arrivals from Ukraine and 52,000 arrivals from Hong Kong.

The Prime Minister rejected assertions that immigration is out of control.

Mr Sunak told Alison Hammond that the public should “rest assured” that the Government is working hard to bring down net migration.

He said: “This week we announced the new measures, and I think pretty much the biggest thing that anyone’s ever announced to bring the levels of migration down.

“And it’s a new policy which limits the amount of family members that people who are studying here can bring with them when they come and study here.

“And what we’ve seen over the last few years is that the number of dependants has just absolutely spiralled, almost 150,000 dependants of people who are studying here coming. We’re saying from now on, that’s not going to be allowed.

“There’s a few other things we’re doing as well, but that’s going to make a big difference because I want to get the numbers down.”

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Asked what number he’d like migration to fall to, Mr Sunak said: “I want the numbers to come down.

“These things are not easy to do. It depends on the economy.”

He added the Government is just as focussed on training young people to fill job vacancies and getting people off welfare and into work.

However, he added the Government has to be “sensitive” to the needs of the NHS when considering the number of migrants entering the country, championing the new NHS worker visa to make it easier for overseas health workers to come to the UK.

Turning the conversation away from today’s net migration statistics, the Prime Minister said many people are more concerned by the number of illegal crossings of the English Channel by small boats.

He explained: “I’m sure your viewers, you know, when you see things on your TV screens, people coming here illegally on small boats across the Channel, I think that really says to people: ‘Hang on, that’s really not properly in control, when people can break the rules and come here illegally.”

This Morning also found time to ask Mr Sunak some personal questions, including the revelation that he’s a fan of Jilly Cooper novels and his concern about young people vaping in light of his own daughters.

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