Migrants coming to the UK 'have to be the right sort of people' Kemi Badenoch says slamming 'far too high' 2022 numbers

27 November 2023, 08:18 | Updated: 27 November 2023, 09:36

Net Migration of 745,000 is 'far, far too high' Business Secretary tells LBC

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Migrants coming to the UK should be filling roles that no British citizen can occupy or have legitimate asylum claims rather than being “economic migrants” who undercut existing British workers, the Business Secretary has told LBC

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Kemi Badenoch said asylum seekers coming to the UK needed to fill roles that Brits could not do.

When Nick asked if the UK's net migration figure of 754,000 was too high the Business Secretary would not be drawn on a figure she would find acceptable, but she told Nick the current figure was"far, far too high."

But she said the cause of immigration should be examined and while there were some legitimate reasons for mass migration, such as Ukrainian refugees, there did need to be more focus on vetting those coming to the UK.

"We have to make sure the people who are coming to the country are the right sort of people, if they are seeking asylum they are genuine asylum seekers not economic migrants," Ms Badenoch said.

She said those who are coming should be filling roles that "absolutely nobody here can do and they're not undercutting people who are already working in the UK."

Read more: Soaring migration 'not a betrayal of Brexit', Michael Gove tells LBC, as he insists Govt will drive down numbers

Read more: Rwanda plan is not the 'be all and end all' to stop illegal migration, says James Cleverly

Michael Gove is unable to say when the Rwanda plan will go ahead

The conversation comes after net migration peaked at 745,000 in the year to December 2022, which is a record high according to revised estimates published by the Office for National Statistics last week.

The data places migration levels at three higher than migration pre-Brexit.

When Ms Badenoch was if she would support proposals to increase the salary threshold for skilled workers to be eligible to come to the UK, the Business and Trade Secretary told Nick: “Well, let’s wait and see what the Home Secretary’s package is. I certainly think that this is something that needs to be done. We know that there are many levers, the salary threshold is one, dependents are another.

“I am certainly in favour of us doing whatever it takes to bring the numbers down to a sustainable level. This is not something that I am being mealy mouthed about but what I don’t want to do is go into the specifics when I don’t know what the plan is.

“But I certainly will be pushing for the strongest measures possible. The migration figures that we have seen were from last year, that was under prime minister Boris Johnson, many of us had reservations about the policy then. So I think that you will be seeing much, much tougher measures going forward.”

Read more: Rishi Sunak 'agreed to raise the salary threshold for migrants to £40,000 in deal with Braverman'

Speaking to LBC's Political Editor Natasha Clark, Levelling up Secretary Michael Gove said refugees from Ukraine and Hong Kong had also inflated the figures and “we have a proud tradition of providing shelter and support for those who are refugees.”

He added: “The Prime Minister has promised he is going to look at this. The home secretary is going to look at this.“I can’t pre-empt the Home Secretary.”

Other newly released data also indicated that net migration for 2023, up until June, stood at 672,000.

That figure has risen from 607,000 for the same period in the previous 12 months.

The figures also indicate that, in total, 1.279 million more people have come to the UK than have exited it during the past two years.

Foreign health and social care workers migrated with a total of 173,896 dependants with 143,990 workers.