Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Home secretary says more Brits should train as fruit pickers and lorry drivers

More Brits should train as lorry drivers, butchers and fruit pickers rather than giving the jobs to overseas workers, the home secretary will tell a conference today.

Suella Braverman will say there is ‘no good reason’ the UK cannot train its own workforce in a speech insisting overall migration must come down.

But her address to the National Conservatism Conference comes amid speculation of a split in Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet over immigration.

Although the prime minister and home secretary have reiterated calls for a reduction in net migration, ministers including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are keen to focus on the economic benefits of giving visas to key sector workers, as well as students.

The home secretary will tell the conference: ‘I voted and campaigned for Brexit because I wanted Britain to control migration. So that we all have a say on what works for our country.

‘High-skilled workers support economic growth. Fact.

‘But we need to get overall immigration numbers down. And we mustn’t forget how to do things for ourselves.

‘There is no good reason why we can’t train up enough HGV drivers, butchers or fruit pickers. Brexit enables us to build a high-skilled, high wage economy that is less dependent on low-skilled foreign labour.

‘That was our 2019 manifesto pledge and what we must deliver.’

In May 2020 during the Covid pandemic, the now-King urged people to help farmers harvest their fruit crops.

Former Environment Secretary George Eustace conceded ‘probably only about a third of the migrant labour force that would normally come to the UK is here – and was probably here before lockdown.’

Official figures to be released later this month are expected to show net migration is between 650,000 and 997,000.

According to The Times newspaper, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan blocked proposals – supported by Ms Braverman – that would have reduced the amount of time foreign students can stay here after completing a course.

Both Ms Keegan and Mr Hunt had been ‘robust’ on the benefit of foreign students, a government source said.

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The three-day conference will also be attended by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, together with former Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost and outspoken deputy party chairman, Lee Anderson.

The gathering follows a ‘terrible’ set of local election results which saw the Tories lose almost 1,000 councillors in Mr Sunak’s first electoral test as PM.

Labour is now the largest party of local government, taking the title from the Conservatives for the first time in 21 years.

Leader Sir Keir Starmer told supporters they on course to take control of Number 10 – despite the party falling short of an overall majority.

However Mr Sunak is planning his own charm offensive tonight, with the promise of pies served from his own North Yorkshire constituency at a Downing Street reception.

This morning he met with Volodymyr Zelensky who arrived by helicopter at Chequers in Buckinghamshire.

The Ukrainian premier said he will meet ‘my friend Rishi’ for what he described as ‘substantive negotiations face-to-face and delegations.’

The pair embraced as Mr Zelensky touched down at the prime minister’s official country residence.

Energy secretary Grant Shapps played down splits within the party – telling Sky News on Sunday how the conferences showed the Tories were ‘buzzing with ideas’.

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