Live updates

Britain refuses to join EU plan to host migrants

David Cameron Credit: Reuters

The UK has opted out of an EU scheme to resettle migrants currently sheltering in Italy and Greece.

Last night EU leaders agreed a compromise plan - described by the Italian premiere Matteo Renzi as "modest" - to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers currently in southern Europe. Another 20,000 who are currently in camps outside the EU, and who are mostly from Syria and Iraq, will be moved into Europe.

Mandatory quotas were fought off by a coalition of eastern European countries in what are reported to have been fiery talks, while Britain has opted out completely.

Mr Renzi was reported to have accused other EU states of lacking "solidarity" because of their unwillingness to take in the thousands of largely Syrian and Eritrean refugees who have ended up in his country, telling them: "If you don't want to take the 40,000 you are not fit to be called Europe."

Advertisement

Australia PM doesn't deny paying smugglers to 'turn back'

Tony Abbott has refused to deny reports in Australian media Credit: DEAN LEWINS / AAP

The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declined to comment on reports that the Australian Navy paid people-smugglers thousands of dollars to turn their boat of migrants away.

Australia has a very strict anti-immigrant policy, and has been diverting asylum seekers in increasing numbers either back to Indonesia, or into camps in Papua New Guinea and Nuaru.

However, Australian and Indonesian media this week reported that Abbott's government had paid people smugglers on a boat carrying 65 migrants around $5,000 Australian each to turn back, after being intercepted at sea.

Mr Abbott has declined to deny that this exchange took place, claiming that "we don't go into the details of operational measures on national security".

Govt migration target 'neither achievable nor desirable'

David Cameron's aim to reduce net migration to below 100,000 is "neither achievable not desirable", the Institute Of Directors said.

David Cameron speaking to an immigration officer today. Credit: PA Wire

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute Of Directors, said the Government's target was "difficult to understand" and was "undermining faith in the whole system".

"By setting a target that is neither achievable not desirable, they have only undermined faith in the whole system," he said.

"International students and highly-skilled individuals from abroad bring substantial benefits to the UK, but business groups cannot have a tin-ear to the widespread public unease about immigration.

"Companies need migrants to be able to fill skills gaps, but that is a different issue to making sure immigration law is properly enforced, including cracking down on the small number of bad employers who break the rules."

Advertisement

PM: Migration figures show how much work we have to do

David Cameron has told ITV News' Romilly Weeks that figures showing a marked increase in net migration show "how much work we have to do".

Asked whether he should abandon his target to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, Mr Cameron said: "Figures show how much work we have to do but the British people believe and I believe...that the number of people coming to our country has been too high and is too high and needs to be brought down."

The Prime Minister said cutting immigration was a priority for his new Government, pledging: "We are going to fix it."

In his speech at the Home Office, Mr Cameron confirmed police would be given the power to seize the earnings of illegal workers as part of his plans.

He also confirmed that he would chair a new "Immigration Taskforce" in order to "hold every part of government to account on our relentless drive to control immigration."

Cooper slams Government's immigration plans

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary and Labour leadership contender, has accused David Cameron of "taking people for fools" after new figures showed a significant increase in net migration to the UK.

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary. Credit: PA Wire

Ms Cooper said there was a "massive gap" between the government's "rhetoric" on immigration and the "reality".

She said: “David Cameron is taking people for fools. On the day he has promised yet again to cut net migration to the tens of thousands, these figures show it is over three times that target.

"This massive gap between rhetoric and reality, between promise and delivery, just destroys trust in anything Ministers say on immigration."

Ukip: Govt failed catastrophically to control immigration

The Government has "catastrophically" failed to control immigration, Ukip has said.

After new figures showed net migration to the UK soared to 318,000 in 2014, Nigel Farage, the party's leader, said David Cameron's claim to be "pulling up the drawbridge" was "absurd".

Ukip's only MP, Douglas Carswell, said Government plans to strip illegal workers of their pay were "mad" and would "persecute a handful of illegal workers".

Steven Woolfe, the party's migration spokesperson added: “Today’s government announcement on illegal migration is a smoke screen to mask today’s appalling immigration statistics.

"In almost every area, net migration, overall UK immigration, EU immigration, non-EU immigration, sham marriages, bogus students, overstayers; the government has failed catastrophically."

Load more updates