SPIRALLING immigration levels are making it ‘impossible to build a cohesive society’, Britain’s home secretary has warned today.
In an uncompromising speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Theresa May said the UK had a ‘moral duty to help people in desperate need’.
However, she argued the nation ‘does not need’ net migration at current levels and that it is ‘difficult’ for key services to cope with the demand.
Britain’s current net migration stands at a record high, reaching 330,000 in March.
Mrs May added that 551 asylum claims had been made over the past five years by EU citizens, at cost £4.2m.
Speaking at the party conference the MP said: ‘There is no case in the national interest for immigration in the scale that we have experienced in the last decade.’
There is no case in the national interest for immigration in the scale that we have experienced in the last decade.Theresa May, home secretary
Mrs May told the audience the ‘desire for a better life is perfectly understandable’ but that ‘there is a limit to the amount of immigration any country can and should take’.
However, she added: ‘While we must fulfil our moral duty to help people in desperate need we must also have an immigration system that allows us to control who comes to our country.
‘Because when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.
‘It’s difficult for school and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope.’
Mrs May said the UK would use ‘hard-headed commonsense’ combined with ‘warm-hearted compassion’ when it came to determining who would gain asylum.
But she stressed that a ‘tougher approach’ would be taken to hit back at those flouting the system.
‘By taking a tougher approach to those who do not need our help, we can give more support to vulnerable people who are in real and urgent need of our protection,’ she added.
Mrs May said that even if the UK could manage all the consequences of mass immigration, ‘Britain does not need net migration in the hundreds of thousands every year’.
The home secretary said some immigrants could fill skills gaps but that ‘not every person coming to Britain right now is a skilled electricians, engineer or doctor’
Mrs May promised a new approach to asylum claims which included tougher treatment for those who travel through safe countries to reach the UK.
She added the government would ‘distinguish’ between vulnerable people and those who are ‘abusing the visa system’.
She also pledged a review of those who granted asylum claiming that as soon as their country of origin was deemed safe, they would be sent back,
On top of this, she said the first annual asylum strategy will be published next year, along with a register of people and organisations able to accommodate refugees.
The home secretary added: ‘What I’m proposing is a deal – the fewer people there are who wrongly claim asylum in Britain, the more generous we can be in helping the most vulnerable people in the world’s most dangerous places.
‘And my message to the immigration campaigners and human rights lawyers is this - you can play your part in making this happen or you can try to frustrate it.
‘But if you choose to frustrate it, you will have to live with the knowledge that you are depriving people in genuine need of the sanctuary our country can offer.
‘There are people who need our help and there are people who are abusing our goodwill and I know whose side I’m on.’