Politics latest: Long-awaited migration data to be confirmed – as Johnson faces questions over 'a dozen meetings in Chequers and Downing Street' (2023)

Key points
  • Net migration forecast to hit new high| Here's what this could mean
  • Ali Fortescue: Record migration figures are due - as ministers go into hiding
  • Johnson facing questions over 'about a dozen' COVID gatherings - reports
  • COVID inquiry issues legal notice over redacted WhatsApps
  • Sam Coates:Leaked Tory WhatsApps shows MPs turning on each other over Boris Johnson legal woes
  • Downing Street insists government is supplying all relevant material to probe
  • Live reporting byFaith Ridler


Coming up: today's politics live streams

We'll be bringing you the latest updates and analysis of the new immigration figures in around 15 minutes, but here are some other political events to keep an eye out for that we'll be streaming live:

  • From 9.30am: Latest from the House of Commons - including an urgent question on the immigration figures at 10.30am - watch here
  • From 10.30am: The science, innovation and technology select committee examines the governance of AI - watch here
  • At 12 noon: Humza Yousaf will be on his feet in the Scottish Parliament for First Minister's Questions - watch here


The history of turmoil within the Tories since Cameron's 'tens of thousands' pledge

Immigration has long been a heated topic in the UK's political discourse, no more so perhaps than within the Conservative Party.

And while there is much analysis of the pros and cons of people coming in and out of the country, the hard numbers have remained the benchmark that many Tories use to determine the performance of their leader on the issue.

Sky News has taken a look at the history of the statistics, the promises and the policies within the party ahead of the latest net migration figure dropping this week.

This explainer from our politics reporter Jennifer Scott has all you need to know:


What will today's migration figures tell us?

The latest net migration figure will land at 9.30am today - and as we've been reporting, it's expected to reach a record high for the last year.

No single source of data can fully cover the complex topic of migration, and gathering an accurate picture is challenging for statisticians.

The figures coming out today will reveal long-term international migration into the UK for the year ending December 2022.

A long-term migrant is someone who has moved to the UK for at least 12 months - so it's important to note today's figures will excludeshort-term migrants, such as those who arrive on work visas for a few weeks or months.

Additionally,small boat arrivalsare measured separately by the Ministry of Defence.

Net migration in the UK - the figure all eyes will be on today - is worked out as the difference between long-term migration and long-term emigration.


Record migration figures are due - as ministers go into hiding

The government is trying to distance itself from today's net migration figures.

There won’t be a minister on this morning's media round, the home secretary and immigration minister will be firmly out of sight.

The reason? Net migration for 2022 is expected to be more than 700,000, the highest level on record, and could well be more than double what it was pre-Brexit.

As the Labour leader put it in PMQs: "If people want to see what uncontrolled immigration looks like all they have got to do is wake up tomorrow morning and look at the headlines".

There are many reasons behind soaring migration, including schemes helping those coming from Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine; but the problem the prime minister, and home secretary, is that the have chosen to put migration at the centre of their pitch to the country.

Suella Braverman’s views on immigration are well documented; last week in a speech, seen by some as a future pitch for the leadership, she attacked the "unexamined drive towards multiculturalism" and said migration levels are "unsustainable".

The 'Stop the Boats' pledge, one of Rishi Sunak's top five priorities, has become a defining slogan of this government.

Former Downing Street pollster James Johnson, says voters have a tendency to view illegal and legal migration together, and there is a "tension" between where the public, and the prime minister, stand on the issue.

He believes, unlike with illegal migration, the government are moving towards a position where "control of legal migration is more important than the reduction of migration". Number 10 insist they are committed to bringing down net migration.

The party have certainly been on a journey in the last decade, from David Cameron's pledge to see migration in the tens of thousands, to Rishi Sunak last week appearing to back away from his predecessor, Boris Johnson's, commitment that net migration would fall below 250,000.

The other issue is cabinet politics: the chancellor has already suggested the government is open to immigration in key sectors to help with a labour shortage, a view not shared by the home secretary.

Behind the scenes it has been suggested to me that public backlash to high immigration figures would help Suella Braverman make her case for tougher action on legal migration in cabinet.

Mrs Braverman has toughened the rules on students bringing families to the UK this week, but for some on the right of the party that’s not enough.

Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative MP for South Thanet, says the government "has not got a grip of migration".

He narrowly beat Nigel Farage in the constituency in 2015, and believes the issue will dominate in his area at the next election; he fears constituents will vote against the conservatives because "Britain does not feel like it's working".


Tories have 'lost control' of immigration - but Labour refuse to give a number for cap

Stephen Kinnock, the shadow immigration minister, told Sky News that "all the indications are that the government has completely lost control of our immigration system".

However, pressed on what Labour's migration cap would be, Mr Kinnock refused to give a number.

He said doing so would make the party a "hostage to fortune".

"I don't think you need to have specific numbers… but you need to have a clear commitment to getting numbers down," he said.

Mr Kinnock said a lot of this could happen "rapidly".

The Labour MP went on to accuse the Tories of failing to build "opportunities for local workforce developments and skills and career planning".

He said: "As a result of that, employers are having to reach for bringing overseas migrant labour into the country.

"This is about balance, of course we need immigration in our country, but we need to balance that against maximising opportunities for local people."


PM needs to confirm 'what his government's policies really are', says ex-Border Force boss

Tony Smith, former director of the UK Border Force, has told Sky News that Rishi Sunak will likely have questions to answer after migration data is unveiled later this morning.

It is widely expected that net migration will soar to at least 700,000, with some forecasters saying they could near one million in the year ending December 2022.

Mr Smith, who worked in the Home Office for 40 years, said migration has been a "constant theme of numbers... going back a great many years".

"There's always been this eye on how many people can be admitted year-on-year."

He explains that between 2000 and 2010, net migration of 250,000 a year "seemed to be kind of acceptable".

"Then the Tory government came in and said that’s too many, we want to reduce it to tens of thousands," Mr Smith said.

However: "It didn't reduce, it went up to about 300,000 when we had the Brexit vote."

He added that there will be "arguments on both sides" if net migration soars in the way that is expected.

There will be "people who think it’s a good thing because we need workers, we need to issue more work permits, we need students to keep our universities going".

"Others will say yes but there's population growth. There’s been around an 8 million population growth, 7 million of that due to immigration over the past 20 years.

"I think the government is going to have to answer some questions about what their policies really are."


Ask The Experts on immigration - submit your question now for live Q&A

At 7pm, live on Sky News, Kamali Melbourne will host a live Q&A on immigration.

You can submit your question in the link below - or call 020 8167 2200 to leave one via voicemail.


Exclusive: Leaked Tory WhatsApps shows MPs turning on each other over Boris Johnson legal woes

The Conservative Party is on course to turn into a "skip fire" as the party's MPs turn on each other over Boris Johnson's latest problems, leaked WhatsApp messages reveal.

Sky News has obtained internal Tory WhatsApp messages from yesterday morning after the decision by Whitehall to refer Boris Johnson to the police over claims of illegal events in Chequers during Covid.

This prompted some speculation that allies of Boris Johnson could destabilise Rishi Sunak by submitting letters of no confidence, claims later denied by friends of the former PM.

According to the exchange obtained by Sky, MPs expressed fury at the notion that the police referral should cause problems for Sunak, who was not involved in the decision.

This was led by Jackie Doyle-Price who said it was "bonkersness. Are you determined to turn our party into a skip fire?"

Simon Hoare, a Tory select committee chairman, said that this "self destroying crap has to end or our party dies".

Here is the exchange in full:

  • 10:02 - Jackie Doyle-Price:FFS - who on earth is spouting this bonkersness? Are you determined to turn our party into a skip fire?
  • 10:03 - Anne-Marie Trevelyan:☝ what Jackie said
  • 10:06- Sally-Ann Hart:WTF.
  • 10:07- Kevin Foster:Spot on Jackie
  • 10:15 - Simon Hoare:would the last Tory MP to leave the building please turn off the lights. The nonsense, self-destroying crap has to end or our Party dies.
  • 10:19 - James Sunderland:These emerging groups, leaks and briefings to the media are helping none of us. All of us already belong to the most successful political grouping ever - It's called the Conservative Party.
  • 10:29 - Andrea Jenkyns:I don't like leakers, I prefer to say things to peoples face. However it is interesting some of those commenting were happy to speak out publicly against the Boris and Liz administrations. So maybe less sanctimony and hypocrisy. Clearly many in the party are unhappy. But those at the top are not doing anything about this to bring people together.
  • 10:29 - Robert Goodwill:There are two very simple rules that must be applied in all situations. 1) Does what I say or do make it more or less likely that we will win the General Election? If the answer is yes then do it, if no then don't. 2) Off the record briefings - see above.
  • 10:32 - Craig Mackinlay:Good advice Sir RG. Never do blue on blue no matter how annoyed one might be.


Net migration data hours away - here's why you should keep an eye out

At 9.30am, the Office for National Statistics will publish the UK's net migration figures for last year - and it is widely anticipated they will hit a new peak.

With a surge in legal migration expected, the Conservatives may be worried about a voter backlash - and perhaps even another wave of rebellion.

As a reminder - in 2019 the Tory manifesto had promised that "overall numbers will come down" after the introduction of post-Brexit border controls.

At the time, net migration was at 226,000.

Analysis by the Centre for Policy Studies forecasts net migration could have hit between 700,000 and 997,000 in the year ending December 2022.

If this forecast becomes a reality, it could raise questions about the impact of Brexit on legal migration - and the ability of the Tories to follow through on their manifesto promises.

Additionally, the Home Office data will allegedly show the number of work and study visas hit a new record of almost a million in the first quarter of 2023.

This was reported in the Times and the Daily Mail, and could indicate that high levels of net migration did not falter into the new year.


Drop in energy prince cap 'positive' for Britons - Shapps

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps described the drop in the energy price cap to £2,074 as "positive" for people in the UK.

In a statement, the minister said: "It's positive households across the country will see their energy bills fall by around £430 on average from July, marking a major milestone in our determined efforts to halve inflation.

"We've spent billions to protect families when prices rose over the winter covering nearly half a typical household's energy bill, and we're now seeing costs fall even further with wholesale energy prices down by over two thirds since their peak as we've neutralised (Vladimir) Putin's blackmail.

"I'm relentlessly focused on reducing our reliance on foreign fossil fuels and powering-up Britain from Britain to deliver cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy."

The energy price cap will come into force in England, Wales and Scotland from 1 July and see bills fall by £426 a year for the average household.

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