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UK's Conservatives promise to cut 'immigration overall'


UK Home Secretary Priti Patel


London:   The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that the ruling Conservatives would reduce "immigration overall" to the country after Brexit if they won the December 12 general election.

"We will reduce immigration overall while being more open and flexible to the highly skilled people we need, such as scientists and doctors," the BBC reported on Thursday citing Patel as saying in a party statement on Wednesday.

"This can only happen if people vote for a Conservative majority government so we can leave the European Union (EU) with a deal."

She claimed there would be a "surge" in immigration under a Labour government, which would put a huge strain on the National Health Services (NHS) and other public services.

Patel however, did not mention details on how she planned to cut immigration.

The Conservatives have said that they would end free movement from the EU on January 1, 2021, if they win the election and get their Brexit deal through by January 31, 2020.

The party is planning a "points-based" system, based on skills and other factors, which would apply to EU and non-EU migrants.

But Conservatives were also expected to ditch its longstanding commitment to cut net migration - the difference between the number of people entering and leaving the country - to below 100,000, after repeatedly failing to meet it.

Last week while speaking to the BBC, Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins repeatedly declined to say whether immigration would be higher or lower under a future Conservative government.

Labour members backed a party conference motion in September defending the right of EU migrants to live and work in the UK, to reject any immigration system based on quotas, caps, targets or incomes, and to extend migrant rights.

According to the latest official figures, net migration totalled 226,000 in the year to March 2019.

Although numbers have remained "broadly stable" since the end of 2016, EU immigration to the UK is currently at its lowest level since 2013.

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