The National:

AFTER a delay that would make those behind the Edinburgh trams blush, the UK Government will finally publish its white paper on immigration today.

Their immigration target has caused rifts between Tories and opposition parties, as well as among the Tories themselves.

The much-maligned net target of less than 100,000, first implemented in 2010 and repeated in the Tory’s 2007 manifesto, has never been met.

Cue a car-crash interview from a Tory politician trying to justify yet another facet of the mess their party has created.

READ MORE: The bizarre Christmas card choice made by Richard Leonard

Speaking during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Home Secretary Sajid Javid was asked by John Humphrys if getting net migration into the tens of thousands remained the target.

Javid replied that there is no specific target. Now you’d think that the implication here would be that the target had been scrapped but Javid denied that it had.

Clearly we’re through the looking glass in UK politics now and a politician holding two completely contradictory views is considered completely coherent.

Javid said that the aim was to get net migration down to more sustainable levels.

John Humphrys then asked: Meaning what?

Sajid Javid: Meaning just that. If you look at the current level of migration, the latest stats show 273,000. Most people agree that is very high, certainly by historical standards. In the last two decades it has been in the hundreds of thousands. If you go back further than that it was much lower. What we want to do is bring it to a level where it is sustainable, in the sense that it meets first our economic need and at the same time, though, it is not too high a burden on our communities or on our infrastructure.

The National:

JH: So you are abandoning the manifesto pledge then ... annual net migration in the tens of thousands rather then the hundreds of thousands that we have seen over the last few decades. You are abandoning that pledge?

SJ: We are not abandoning any pledge.

JH: In that case you are keeping it. It’s one way or the other.

SJ: In our manifesto we committed ourselves to bringing net migration down to sustainable levels.

JH: Yes, I’ve just told you what you committed yourselves to - tens of thousands.

SJ: In the manifesto we said it’s an ambition.

JH: No, objective.

SJ: The objective is to bring net migration down to more sustainable levels. And we will set out today in the white paper how.

JH: Just to be absolutely clear, it is no longer going to be tens of thousands.

SJ: Our objective is clear. It is about bringing net migration down ... the current levels are unsustainable … JH: Right, you’ve said that, but I’m just trying to be absolutely clear. Has the tens of thousands figure been abandoned.

SJ: We remain committed to our manifesto.

JH: So you are keeping it?

SJ: We remain committed to our objective of bringing net migration down.

JH: You’re just not going to use those words ‘tens of thousands’ are you? It is in your manifesto, I have just read you the precise words of the manifesto ‘It is our objective to reduce immigration … to the tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands’. I’m merely inviting you, since you say you are sticking to the manifesto, I’m inviting you merely to repeat those words.

SJ: I think what was clear from the manifesto is our commitment to bringing net migration down and that is what this new system will achieve.

JH: So you’re not going to use that word tens of thousands, right?

SJ: I… I’ve been clear. I think I’ve been very clear on this.

JH: Let me just make the point to you that the former Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Normington said this: ‘I would say to the Government that if you’re going to have the target it would be better if you set one that is achievable to begin with.’ So presumably that is the reason you are no longer going to stick with that target because you think it is not achievable.

SJ: Well, look, I want an immigration system that is going to achieve our objectives, meet our national interests and that is our economic objectives, of course, but also meeting some of the anxieties that exist in some communities with high levels of migration. What we’ve set out today is going to be a fact-based immigration system, we commissioned work from the independent Migration Advisory Committee, they came back and said you can work perfectly well as a country with a skills-based system, you have a single system that no longer judges people by their nationality but the skill and what they have to offer.