June 21, 2024

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Rishi Sunak faces an ungovernable party that wants it all

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Good morning. I’ve been rather critical of Rishi Sunak’s political strategy in this newsletter recently (and indeed on our podcast, and on Sky, and on the BBC, and . . . you get the picture).

But when I look at both the public and private reaction of his MPs to the UK’s immigration figures, and the demands for “action” from his parliamentary party, I think I’ve missed the wood for the trees. Ultimately the biggest constraint facing the prime minister is that this is a party that does not want to be led. Some more thoughts on that below.

Inside Politics is edited by Georgina Quach. Read the previous edition of the newsletter here. Please send gossip, thoughts and feedback to insidepolitics@ft.com

What became of the immigration manifesto pledge

Net migration to the UK in the 12 months to June this year was 672,000, while net migration last year has been revised upwards to a record high of 745,000.

While these figures are consistent with the ONS and the OBR’s forecast that net migration figures will fall as various one-off events (the war in Ukraine, a post-Covid bulge in student arrivals and so forth) work their way through, the “resting level” of net migration to the UK over the past 13 years looks to have been around 300,000. That is much higher than the Conservative party’s much-repeated promises to cut it to the tens of thousands.

The UK has these figures because it is a low-tax country (relatively-speaking, given the upward pressures on spending faced by essentially all states). The two biggest drivers in recent years are vacancies in health and social care, and overseas students. If you want the immediate action that many Conservative MPs are calling for to reduce…

2023-11-24 04:30:06

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