By Tim Montgomerie
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Theresa May writes in today's Sun about her determination to tighten Britain's immigration laws. She restates her determination to bring net immigration down from the hundreds of thousands every year to the tens of thousands. "This country," she writes, "cannot cope with the influx we saw in the last decade — equal to a new Norwich or Northampton springing up every year."
Mentioning double Olympic gold medallist for TeamGB, Mo Farah she says that immigration can bring big benefits to Britain. "Our door," the Home Secretary insists, "will be open to those who benefit Britain, the brightest and best, entrepreneurs who inspire us, businessmen who invest in us, the gifted who entertain us — on the stage or on the pitch." But, she continues, she has to to weigh the benefits of immigration with the costs which include "more pressure on our health, education, transport and welfare services, more competition for jobs." Data released at the end of last month by the Office of National Statistics suggested that increased immigration may well have contributed to reduced incomes. On 31st July the ONS noted that "sustained population growth led to incomes being spread across a greater number of people, and therefore further reduced the growth of actual income per head".
In her determination to control immigration Mrs May has formed a close alliance with Iain Duncan Smith and Eric Pickles. It is not just the Liberal Democrats who are sometimes unethusiastic about her efforts to control immigration. Certain Tory ministers representing education and university interests have raised concerns about the policies being pursued by Mrs May and immigration minister Damian Green. ConHome has also learnt that certain political and civil service officials inside Downing Street are also pressing for a relaxation of policy – although not the PM or Chancellor themselves. Mrs May's hand has been strengthened by ideological support from the two Cabinet ministers most concerned about high levels of net immigration. IDS fears his welfare-to-work programmes will struggle to succeed if UK employers can easily hire immigrant workers while Eric Pickles is worried about pressures on local government budgets from immigration. Central funding of local authorities often lags behind immigration statistics meaning that local budgets come under unexpected pressures.