In a significant move, MPs will soon have the opportunity to vote on annual government proposals aimed at systematically reducing immigration numbers. These proposals will be based on recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an expert body.

Although no specific figures have been suggested for a potential cap, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasized that his party is the only one prepared to take “bold action to reduce immigration” ahead of the upcoming election on July 4.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, criticized the Conservative Party, noting that net migration has tripled and accusing them of “rehashing failed announcements.” The announcement coincides with Nigel Farage’s return to lead the Reform Party, which is also focusing on reducing immigration, thereby increasing pressure on Sunak.

Immigration control and reducing numbers have become crucial issues in the ongoing political battle between Labour and the Conservatives. Sunak aims to highlight this new policy as a central component of his manifesto during the head-to-head debate with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Sunak stated that empowering MPs with the decision-making process would reassure voters that their opinions are acknowledged and respected. “The plan is working but migration levels are still too high, so we are going further,” he said. He accused Labour of potentially making the UK a “global magnet for illegal immigrants” and lacking a plan to reduce net migration.

The proposed cap will affect worker and family visas but will exclude temporary work routes, such as the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme. The MAC’s mandate will focus on the economy, explicitly considering the economic costs of migration, including impacts on public services, wages, and productivity.

Successive Conservative governments, under Theresa May, David Cameron, and Rishi Sunak, have tried to limit visas, most recently through the Illegal Migration Act of the previous year.

Yvette Cooper dismissed the announcement as meaningless, criticizing the Tories for tripling net migration since the last election while failing to address skills shortages and economic issues. She outlined Labour’s plan to reduce net migration by linking the immigration system to mandatory training and workforce plans for British workers and preventing rogue employers from hiring abroad.

Official statistics reveal that immigration levels last year were about three times higher than in 2019, although lower than in 2022. Over 300,000 work visas were issued in the year ending March 2024, more than double the number in 2019.

Recent regulations, including a ban on international students and social care workers bringing dependent family members and increased minimum salary requirements for skilled worker visas, have led to a significant decline in health and social care visa applications. However, care providers warn that the sector is struggling with substantial vacancies.

Nigel Farage, now leading Reform UK, stated that the population explosion is diminishing the quality of life in the UK. The Reform Party aims for “net zero immigration,” balancing the number of people entering and leaving the UK to stabilize the population. Farage advocated for admitting fewer unskilled immigrants, asserting that this would create job shortages, raise wages, and encourage skill development over university education.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Farage appeared to reconsider Reform’s policy of moving asylum seekers to British overseas territories, admitting it was not “terribly practical.” He requested more time to refine the party’s policies after taking over as leader.

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