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Some Conservative MPs have expressed anger after official statistics showed net migration for a calendar year at a record high.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published data this morning showing that net migration stood at 606,000 in the year ending December 2022.

The figure came despite a Tory 2019 manifesto commitment to “bring overall numbers down”.

Net migration is the annual number of people arriving in the UK when both immigration and emigration are taken into account.

Following the update, immigration minister Robert Jenrick responded to an urgent question in the House of Commons in which he said the government remained committed to reducing migration to “sustainable levels”.

He told MPs: “That is a solemn promise we made to the British public in our manifesto, and we are unwavering in our determination to deliver it.”

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Mr Jenrick pointed to recent curbs on international students bringing family to the UK as a means to bring overall numbers down.

But Labour attacked the government for lacking a plan on migration.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, also criticised Suella Braverman for not appearing in parliament to answer questions on the issue.

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Labour: Govt has ‘no plan’ on migration

A number of Tory MPs also lined up in the Commons to criticise the government’s approach.

Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh told the Commons: “Some people in the Treasury seem to think a good way to grow the economy is to fill the country up with more and more people, but this is bad for productivity and bad for British workers who are being undercut by mass migration from all over the world.

“Why is it that under the points-based system we allow people in earning only £26,000 a year but the median UK salary is £33,000 a year?

“Isn’t an obvious solution to this to insist that everybody who comes in is skilled and earns the median UK salary median and then we can boost productivity and get British people back to work?”

The Conservative MP for Cleethorpes, Martin Vickers, said while the “anger and frustration” of his constituents had been on illegal migration, “that anger and frustration will grow when they consider these legal migration figures”.

“We’re creating, roughly speaking, eight new parliamentary constituencies with this number and if that continues it’s clearly unsustainable,” he said.

Mr Jenrick was also criticised by former levelling up minister Simon Clarke, who tweeted that the immigration figures were “too high”.

“There is no popular mandate at all for this level of immigration to the UK,” he wrote.

Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Tory MP for Bassetlaw, also tweeted: “Need to see these numbers cut drastically going forwards.”

The ONS figures showed that total long-term immigration was estimated at around 1.2 million in 2022, while emigration was 557,000.

Most people arriving in the UK last year were non-EU nationals (925,000), followed by EU (151,000) and British (88,000), the ONS said.

However, the ONS added that despite the rise in immigration last year, its long-term international migration estimates “suggest a slowing in growth over the most recent quarters”.

Separate statistics from the Home Office also revealed that the backlog of asylum cases in the UK has hit a new record high.

A total of 172,758 people were waiting for an initial decision on an asylum application in the UK at the end of March 2023, up 57% compared to the end of March 2022, and the highest figure since current records began in 2010.

The number of people waiting more than six months for an initial decision stood at 128,812 at the end of March, up 76% year on year from 73,207 – another record high.

Mr Jenrick suggested that speeding up decisions could, in fact, act as a pull factor for people coming to the UK, saying it was “not correct” that processing illegal migrants’ claims faster would reduce arrivals and that “in all likelihood it’ll lead to an increase”.

But the immigration minister appeared to be at odds with Rishi Sunak over the delays.

Asked about the comments, Downing Street said tackling the asylum backlog is “the right approach”.

The prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “What we are focusing on is reducing the numbers, tackling that backlog is the right approach.”

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Downing Street also declined to apologise for failing on delivering the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledge to bring overall net migration numbers down after the introduction of post-Brexit border controls.

Asked whether the prime minister would like to apologise, his official spokesman told reporters: “We are working to bring those numbers down. We’ve set out a significant package to do that just this week as well as all the work that goes alongside stopping the boats.

“It’s also important to understand what sits beneath some of those numbers – 114,000 Ukrainians coming over for example, 52,000 British nationals from Hong Kong. We think that is something the public can be rightly proud of.

“At the same time, we need to strike the right balance about supporting our economy with getting those numbers down, so we recognise that number’s up too high.”

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Donald Sutherland, Hunger Games and Kelly’s Heroes actor, dies

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Donald Sutherland, Hunger Games and Kelly's Heroes actor, dies

Donald Sutherland, who appeared in films including The Hunger Games and Kelly’s Heroes, has died at the age of 88.

His agency, CAA, said he died in Miami “after a long illness”.

The Canadian actor won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance in the mini-series Citizen X.

In 2017, he received an honorary Oscar.

His son, fellow actor Kiefer Sutherland, said “with a heavy heart” that his father had “passed away”.

“I personally think [he was] one of the most important actors in the history of film,” Kiefer Sutherland posted on X, adding that he was “never daunted by a role – good, bad or ugly”.

“He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived.”

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Sutherland with his son Kiefer. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Sutherland with his son Kiefer. Pic: Reuters

In the Hunger Games franchise, Donald Sutherland played President Snow alongside Jennifer Lawrence.

In Kelly’s Heroes he starred alongside Telly Savalas and Clint Eastwood as Sergeant Oddball – on a mission to steal gold from the Nazis.

“I love to work – I passionately love to work,” Sutherland told US talk show host Charlie Rose in 1998.

“I love to feel my hand fit into the glove of some other character. I feel a huge freedom – time stops for me. I’m not as crazy as I used to be, but I’m still a little crazy.”

Sutherland with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence in 2015. Pic: AP
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Sutherland with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence in 2015. Pic: AP

His “breakthrough performances” were in 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen and MASH, CAA said.

He also took parts in Robert Redford’s Ordinary People and Oliver Stone’s JFK.

He is survived by his wife Francine Racette, sons Roeg, Rossif, Angus, and Kiefer, daughter Rachel, and four grandchildren.

“A private celebration of his life will be held by the family,” CAA said.

Born in St John, New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada in July 1935, he was the son of a salesman and a mathematics teacher.

He started university in Toronto as an engineering student but switched to English and started acting in college productions.

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Serbia threaten to pull out of Euro 2024 over Croatia and Albania chants

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Serbia threaten to pull out of Euro 2024 over Croatia and Albania chants

Serbia have threatened to pull its football team out of Euro 2024 if UEFA doesn’t punish Croatia and Albania for alleged hateful chants.

Jovan Surbatovic, general secretary of the Serbian football association, said they have made a formal complaint about “kill, kill, kill the Serb” chants during the 2-2 draw between Croatia and Albania on Wednesday.

He warned the team could pull out entirely if the European football governing body UEFA doesn’t act on their complaint.

“What happened is scandalous and we will ask UEFA for sanctions, even if it means not continuing the competition,” Mr Surbatovic said, according to Serbian broadcaster PTC.

“If UEFA doesn’t punish them, we will think about how to proceed.”

Serbia face Slovenia in Group C on Thursday, having lost to England 1-0 on Sunday.

England's Jude Bellingham in action with Serbia's Nikola Milenkovic. Pic: Reuters
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England’s Jude Bellingham in action with Serbia’s Nikola Milenkovic. Pic: Reuters

The Serbian FA was charged by UEFA for incidents during that game.

Supporters displayed a banner that “transmitted a provocative message unfit for a sports event” and threw objects inside the stadium, according to UEFA.

That charge came after the Kosovo Football Federation complained about “Serbian fans displaying political, chauvinistic, and racist messages against Kosovo”.

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Reuters news agency reported a group of Serbia fans chanted “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” in central Munich’s Marienplatz on Thursday, ahead of their team’s game against Slovenia.

“We were punished for isolated cases and our fans behaved much better than the others,” Mr Surbatovic said.

“One fan was punished for racist insults and we don’t want it to be attributed to others. We Serbs are gentlemen and we have an open heart.”

UEFA has been approached for comment.

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Jay Slater: Photographs show Tenerife property where missing British teenager was last seen

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Jay Slater: Photographs show Tenerife property where missing British teenager was last seen

Photographs show the Tenerife property where British teenager Jay Slater is believed to have been last seen before he went missing on Monday.

A Snapchat video shared by the 19-year-old on Sunday night appears to show the property he visited in the northwestern mountain village of Masca after attending the NRG music festival.

Mr Slater, from Oswaldtwistle near Blackburn in Lancashire, was holidaying with friends on the island before he went missing.

The property where Mr Slater is believed to have been last seen
Image:
The property where Jay Slater is believed to have been last seen

His friend Lucy Law told Wednesday’s UK Tonight programme on Sky News that she spoke to Mr Slater on the phone at about 8.15am local time on Monday.

During the short phone call, he told her he had missed a bus trying to get back to his holiday accommodation so was attempting to walk instead – a journey that would take 11 hours.

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Missing British teen’s friend speaks to Sky News

She said he told her he had “cut his leg on a cactus“, didn’t know where he was and his mobile phone battery was down to 1%.

Ms Law also said Mr Slater told her he “needed a drink”.

He was able to send her his last live location which showed as the Rural de Teno Park – a mountainous area popular with hikers – before his phone cut out.

Ms Law said Mr Slater, an apprentice bricklayer, is “not a stupid boy” and would have flagged down any passing car or spoken to a passerby.

Soon after Mr Slater went missing, an American woman offered to drive Ms Law up into the mountains.

There was “literally no sign of him anywhere”, she said. “We drove around all day.”

Ms Law added that they “managed to find the house” where Mr Slater was last seen.

She continued: “I knocked on the door and there were two people there.”

Image:
The property where Jay Slater is believed to have been last seen

They told Ms Law that Mr Slater had gone out for a cigarette before going back in and saying he wanted to go home.

“They told me he’d spoken to the next door neighbours and they’d told him there was a bus every 10 minutes back down to Los Cristianos.

“The bus stop was right next to the house. So obviously if he’d gone to get the bus he wouldn’t have got lost because it [the stop] was visible from the front door.”

Tenerife map for Jay Slater story
Image:
Jay Slater’s phone’s last live location was Rural de Teno Park. The search has also focused on Los Cristianos

The teenager was wearing a T-shirt and shorts and was without food and water, she added.

“It’s very warm in the day and very cold at night,” Ms Law said.

“So in the day he’s going to be really warm without a drink, and then at night he’s going to be very cold without any suitable clothing.”

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Jay Slater. Pic: Lucy Law
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Pic: Lucy Law

Pic: Reuters
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A rescue team searches the Masca ravine. Pic: Reuters

Earlier, she told the Manchester Evening News someone Mr Slater had met on the night out had driven him back to their apartment in a hire car without him realising how far away it was.

“He’s ended up out in the middle of nowhere. Jay was obviously thinking he would be able to get home from there,” she told the newspaper.

‘A living nightmare’

Mr Slater’s mother Debbie Duncan, who flew to the island and has joined mountain rescuers and the local civil guard in the search for her son, has called his disappearance “an absolute living nightmare”.

Search teams refocused their efforts on Thursday in the north of Tenerife, where Rural de Teno Park is located, after discounting a potential lead in the south of the island, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, a Tenerife-based journalist said today is a “key day” in the search for Mr Slater.

Clio O’Flynn told Sky News: “If he’s taken shelter, the hope is he’s waiting for help to come along,”

She added: “The problem will be ‘does he have a phone signal? Will people be able to locate him? Can he hear their cries?'”

Police officers search for a missing  Masca ravine on the island of Tenerife.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
Police officers search the Masca ravine. Pic: Reuters

Ms O’Flynn said the search had been “very intense” with teams using all the resources at their disposal, including “mountain specialists, search dogs, drones and helicopters” and are “taking suggestions from his family, so it’s very coordinated”.

The area where he is believed to have gone missing is a “dry, arid, part of the island”, and, given its volcanic origins, has “ravines and gullies”, Ms O’Flynn said.

She warned there are “no lakes, rivers or streams, so it would be quite hard for him to access fresh water”.

Temperatures have been about 26C (79F), she said, but warned that “if you’re lost, 25C is very hot”.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Spain and are in contact with the local authorities.”

The Spanish Civil Guard told UK media they are “doing everything possible” to find Mr Slater.

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