PM denies losing control of UK borders as net migration hits all-time record
RISHI Sunak last night denied he had lost control of Britain’s borders — despite net migration hitting a record 606,000.
Official figures showed 1.2million people came to the UK in 2022 but only 557,000 left.
Experts warned of crippling pressure on housing, the NHS and schools — with a city the size of Birmingham having arrived over the past two decades.
Furious Tory MPs branded it a “wake-up call for Britain” and demanded ministers did more to get the millions out of work back into jobs rather than relying on the open tap of foreign labour.
The UK is now on course to overtake the population size of France for the first time by the middle of this decade owing to the massive influx.
In a blow to No10, the asylum backlog has spiralled again — despite the PM vowing to eradicate it by the end of the year.
Just one per cent of the 40,444 small boat migrants who claimed asylum in the past 12 months have been processed — with 61 per cent given the nod to stay.
The numbers are equivalent to a city the size Bristol arriving on Britain’s shores in a year.
But an unrepentant PM refused to give any specific targets for cutting the numbers or apologise for missing years of Conservative manifesto pledges to slash them.
He told ITV’s This Morning: “I want the numbers to come down. These things are not easy to do.”
He insisted what people cared more about was illegal migration — despite that only making up 76,000 of last year’s total.
Asked whether immigration was out of control, the PM said: “Well, no, I think the numbers are just too high.”
One in 12 non-EU migrants is coming in via asylum-seeker routes.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman was nowhere to be seen yesterday — and sent out her immigration minister Robert Jenrick to answer questions.
He admitted numbers would not go down much before the next election, saying: “We expect net migration to fall to pre-pandemic levels in the medium term.”
He added: “If there are further interventions we need to do, we will do, because we are determined to bring net migration down and to meet our pledge to the British public to do that.”
Tory MPs called on the PM to get a grip and honour their promises to the British people.
Sir John Hayes insisted: “It’s time to get Britons working.
“We have to skill our own people, recruit and retain them, rather than simply turning on the tap and bringing workers from outside.”
Bob Seeley admitted: “We promised to get the numbers down and we didn’t. End of.”
Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “This is a wake-up call for Britain — and it’s costing us the earth. This is not just about borders, but housing, hospitals and benefits.
“UK industry is addicted to cheap labour.”
Tory MP Louie French said unsustainable levels of migration were having a significant impact on housing in South East England.
Former Brexit Party chief Nigel Farage accused the Tories of breaking vital promises to get the numbers down — and dubbed it a “total breach of trust” for voters.
Labour also hit out, with shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock saying: “The numbers need to come down.
“After 13 years the Conservatives have lost control of our immigration. They failed to invest in local, homegrown talent.”
Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch said: “The Prime Minister has abandoned any effort to cut immigration from these stratospheric levels. We really are standing on the edge of the cliff.”
Britain needs to build an extra 250,000 homes just to accommodate the migrants who arrived last year, City analysts have warned.
Investec said the chronic lack of homes in the UK would be worsened — adding to demand and pushing up rents and house prices.
Immigration has increased the UK population by nearly seven million over the past 20 years.
In 2019 net migration stood at 226,000, when Boris Johnson refused to re-commit to David Cameron’s vow to slash it to the tens of thousands.
The numbers rose to just above half a million in the 12 months to June 2022, before ballooning.
By contrast France’s net migration figure stands at just 161,000.
But experts say they are hopeful the UK figures may be peaking.
They said people who came from Ukraine and Hong Kong, plus the extra travellers post-pandemic, had partly boosted the numbers.
Meanwhile, it emerged that almost four million people receiving out-of-work benefits have no requirements to look for a job.
Tories are demanding a welfare system shake-up to bring down the 5.2million working-age claimants.
Research suggests at least 700,000 people on sickness benefits want to return to work.
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