Migration could increase in the “short term” under a Labour government, the party’s chairwoman has suggested, but would ultimately be reduced by addressing the domestic skills shortage.
Anneliese Dodds indicated Labour would focus less on a target-based approach to the number of people entering the country, and more on training within the UK.
She pointed to the party’s pledge to double the number of medical school places and train 10,000 more nurses and midwives each year as an example.
Asked on Sky News whether Labour wants migration to increase, Ms Dodds said: “Well, what we would see if we had an immigration system that was working properly would be potentially in some areas where there’s a short-term need for skills, you could see in the short term actually people who are coming in increasing in number.
“We’ve not had that unfortunately under the Conservatives. We’ve got skills shortages and those shortages are not being filled because there’s not the domestic upskilling that needs to be taking place.”
It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conceded he believes immigration into the UK is “too high”, but refused to commit to bringing levels down by the next election.
The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised “overall numbers will come down” as the Government ends freedom of movement in the wake of Brexit.
Migration levels were at 226,000 then, but they exceeded 500,000 in the year to June 2022 and could be as high as one million in new figures due to be published in the coming weeks.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been publicly pushing for lower immigration, saying more Britons should be trained to be lorry drivers and fruit pickers to plug demand.
But Mr Sunak has been taking a more pragmatic approach over economic needs and has made clear to farmers that more seasonal fruit pickers will be allowed into the UK if they are needed.