Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson has again broken party ranks by directly contradicting the Home Secretary over claims that Britain should reduce immigration to bring down property prices.
In a report by the Telegraph, the outspoken Mayor said he does not think it is “sensible” to try to keep people out of the country in order to let house prices fall.
His remarks are a direct snub to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who said last week that lower property prices are a benefit of cutting down on immigration.
“That would lead to a fall in the equity of everyone and, for the life of me, I cannot see the logic,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
“We should crack down on illegal immigration and, yes, Labour failed to get hold of the problem.
“But the number one issue amongst Indian businessmen [considering investing in Britain] is: ‘Are you hostile to us coming to London?'”
Mr Johnson has raised concerns that negative messages from senior figures in Government puts bright and talented foreigners off wanting to settle in Britain. Johnson recently said that new rules tightening rules on visas for overseas non-EU students sends out the “wrong signal” and could damage the UK’s multi-billion pound higher education market.
Mrs May last week acknowledged that Britain should be more open to legitimate foreign students, as she relaxed restrictions on how long PhD students can stay after finishing their degrees. But she also said mass immigration needs to be curbed to bring down house prices, improve wages and reduce the benefits bill.
“One area in which we can be certain mass immigration has an effect is housing,” she said. “More than one third of all new housing demand in Britain is caused by immigration.
“And there is evidence that without the demand caused by mass immigration, house prices could be 10 per cent lower over a 20 year period.”
May also launched a further attack on so called “bogus students”, calling for 100% Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) interviews in “targeted countries”.
The Conservative Government has pledged to slash net migration to the tens of thousands, rather than the current hundreds of thousands, by 2015.
This weekend Boris helped launch a new cross-party group of politicians, trade unionists and business leaders campaigning for an “open and honest debate” about immigration.
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