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Former Tory immigration minister Robert Jenrick has called for the Home Office to be split in two as part of a 30-point plan to curb migration.

Mr Jenrick, who is seen as a potential Conservative leadership contender, has been ramping up pressure on Rishi Sunak over the issue after quitting his government post last year.

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In a report he co-authored for the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), a centre-right think-tank, the MP for Newark said the government must “undo the disastrous post-Brexit liberalisations” that have “betrayed” the public’s wish for lower immigration.

He proposed a number of policies that should be implemented ahead of the looming general election, including breaking up the Home Office to create a department more focused on border control.

He said voters “deserve a department whose sole mission is controlling immigration and securing our borders”.

The proposals also include capping health and care visas at 30,000, scrapping the graduate route for international students, and indexing salary thresholds for visa routes in line with inflation.

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Mr Jenrick said: “It would be unforgivable if the government did not use the time before the general election to undo the disastrous post-Brexit liberalisations that betrayed the express wishes of the British public for lower immigration.

“The changes we propose today would finally return numbers to the historical norm and deliver the highly selective, highly-skilled immigration system voters were promised.

“These policies could be implemented immediately and would consign low-skilled mass migration to the past.”

Mr Jenrick was the immigration minister between October 2022 and December 2023.

He quit over the government’s inability to get the Rwanda deportation policy off the ground, and has since become one of the Mr Sunak’s loudest critics, particularly on migration.

Official estimates published in November indicated the net migration figure – the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving Britain – reached a record 745,000 in 2022.

The 2019 Tory manifesto promised to bring the “overall number down”.

The intervention comes amid a pessimistic mood with the Conservative Party following a bruising set of local election results.

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Rwanda bill ‘a bucket full of holes’

Many Tories on the right believe caps on legal migration and getting flights to Rwanda in order to “stop the boats” is the best way to give the party a fighting chance at the general election, which the prime minister has admitted he might not win.

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Home Office figures show how vital immigration is to the economy

The government is introducing a raft of restrictions in a bid to cut the number of people legally arriving in Britain, including a ban on overseas care workers bringing family dependants to the UK and a drastically hiked salary threshold for skilled workers to £38,700.

A government spokesperson said: “The prime minister and home secretary have been clear that current levels of migration are far too high. That is why the government announced a plan to cut the number of migrants that would have come last year to the UK by 300,000 – the largest reduction ever.

“This plan is working, with the latest statistics showing applications across three major visa categories are down by 24%.

“Our approach is fair – reducing immigration and ensuring businesses invest in and recruit from the domestic workforce, whilst prioritising the overseas workers and students who will contribute significantly to our economy.”

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Sunak’s Number 10 is much better at keeping secrets than others

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Sunak's Number 10 is much better at keeping secrets than others

Suddenly, at election time, political predictions become so much harder and riskier. Everything changes in a campaign, not least the news cycle.

That’s my excuse, at any rate, for failing to foresee the announcement of a general election in last week’s Politics at Jack and Sam’s.

There were a few clues – and one magisterial tweet from Financial Times journalist Lucy Fisher – but we were deaf to the signals.

👉 Listen above then tap here to follow Politics at Jack and Sam’s wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Pic: Reuters
Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak speaks to journalists on the plane on their way to Staffordshire, Britain May 24, 2024. HENRY NICHOLLS/Pool via REUTERS
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Pic: Reuters

In this week’s Politics At Jack and Sam’s podcast, we reflect how this Number 10 – in big contrast to the last two – is much better at keeping secrets.

But the moment an election is called, the way information gets out alters and everything becomes trickier.

Follow live – general election latest:
Tories attack Starmer’s ‘stamina’ as PM shuns team to campaign

Normally political news emerges in so many different ways. There’s parliament. Government announcements. Questions, written and oral. MPs themselves, including ministers, wandering the corridors of the Commons where journalists can go stopping for a gossip.

All of that disappears at election time. Keeping things secret from the other side matters a lot more, while decisions and information is held by a much tighter group of people.

That’s why it’s not really feasible to do a weekly look ahead political podcast – and we’re responding by going daily. More details to follow.

Rishi Sunak‘s allies are quite upfront that the timing of the general election was a finely balanced argument and you can make a case both ways.

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Sunak defends wet election announcement

One of the big things that motivated Sunak to go now was that he was doing – in his view – big things; welfare announcements, defence spending commitments, NHS workforce plan.

But they found people weren’t listening and the polls weren’t moving. They weren’t “getting a hearing”. Which they put down to people being switched off from politics and apathy being high – and so the decision to call an election was motivated by that.

The other big consideration was that from around March, early April they were getting internal economic indicators, suggesting the economic conditions – things like inflation, interest rates – might be favourable sufficiently such that they could base a campaign around.

Fascinatingly, they say there wasn’t a “decision” meeting two months ago or even three weeks ago – the move was more like the tide coming in slowly.

Although Labour were caught on the hop – some staff had booked leave, were privately confident there was nothing coming this summer and the Labour campaign bus is not yet ready – candidates claim to be pretty happy with what’s happened so far.

However, the biggest challenge of the next five weeks will be seeing whether they can respond to the pressure of a campaign, and the relentless desire for more of everything.

Currently the narrative is that Sunak had a miserable start – in a few weeks, pictures of the PM in the rain could be a plucky fighter battling against the odds.

This feels unlikely right now, but having been through the 2017 campaign, we know anything can happen.

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Trump promises to release Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected

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Trump promises to release Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected

Former United States President Donald Trump vows to free Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected.

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Donald Trump declares US must not settle for ‘second place’ in crypto industry

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Donald Trump declares US must not settle for ‘second place’ in crypto industry

Former United States President Donald Trump claims he is “very open minded” to “all things related to this new and burgeoning industry.”

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