After the quarterly immigration figures were out today, showing record immigration into the UK, Tory MP Theresa Villiers was representing the government line today.
But the interview on BBC Daily Politics was a disaster.
The government has an immigration target it knows it can’t stick to.
Rather than dropping the silly target of cutting net-immigration down to less than 100,000, the government keeps pretending it will stick to it.
So it can “listen to the concerns” of people.
Not only is that nearly impossible, it further erodes any trust in the system.
Fair play to Andrew Neil, who hammered the Tory MP over this today.
Andrew Neil: But can we just clarify. It’s not that you set a target you are heading towards, but have not yet reached. Or even not yet reached by a country mile. It is that you’ve set a target, and far from getting towards it, you’re going in the opposite direction.
Theresa Villiers: Well, I know the government is determined to tackle this. We would all acknowledge we have not yet made the progress we would want to.
Andrew Neil: The determination doesn’t seem to have any impact. Your determination makes no difference to the numbers.
Theresa Villiers: We do have to deal with this. We will have to deal with this. Inevitably it’s going to take…
Andrew Neil: When? Why do you keep making promises you know you can’t keep, that’s the bottom line.
Theresa Villiers: Unfortunately I think it’s going to take some years.
Andrew Neil: It’s not going to happen by 2020 either, is it?
Theresa Villiers: I…think that’s going to be difficult.
Andrew Neil: Why did you run on an election manifesto that said it would?
Theresa Villiers: It was important to respond to people’s concerns about immigration.
Andrew Neil: What, by lying to them?
Theresa Villiers: We are determined to bring immigration down to sustainable levels, and the Prime Minister is absolutely committed to that 100,000 target.
Also notable she admitted the Tories would not be able to meet their immigration manifesto promise.
Rather than lying and having urealistic targets, the Tories need to start getting honest on this issue