THE Prime Minister is facing a new organised bloc of dissatisfied Tory MPs unhappy with the way the Government is handling immigration.

The New Conservatives held their inaugural meeting on Monday with a 12-point plan they said would more than halve the rate of immigration.

Who are the New Conservatives?

In a mission statement published on Monday, 20 Tory MPs put their name to plans which criticised the Government over rising levels of net migration.

They are:

  • Gareth Bacon
  • Duncan Baker
  • Jack Brereton
  • Paul Bristow
  • Miriam Cates
  • Brendan Clarke-Smith
  • James Daly
  • Anna Firth
  • Nick Fletcher
  • Chris Green
  • James Grundy
  • Jonathan Gullis
  • Eddie Hughes
  • Tom Hunt
  • Mark Jenkinson
  • Danny Kruger
  • Andrew Lewer
  • Marco Longhi
  • Robin Millar
  • Lia Nici

Deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lee Anderson had been expected to address the new group at Monday’s meeting but was said to be too ill to attend. He was absent from the official list of backers.

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All were elected after the 2016 Brexit referendum and they noted that voters who backed leaving the European Union “expected that immigration would be brought down”.

What do they stand for?

The group appears to be focused entirely on immigration and their de facto leader Tom Hunt stressed they were not “rebels”.

They have criticised the Conservative leadership for failing to deliver on its manifesto pledge to bring down the level of net migration to 226,000 arrivals in 2024. Last year, net migration stood at 606,000.

Hunt, the MP for Ipswich, said levels of migration were “too high” and “unsustainable” – a common refrain among Tory MPs and the Home Secretary, who is responsible for the UK’s immigration policy.

The report published by the New Conservatives outlined a number of measures which would cut immigration numbers.

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These include closing schemes to encourage people to move to Britain to become care workers, stopping foreign graduates from staying on in the UK for longer than two years after university and closing the route for the families of foreign students from working in Britain.

Another proposal argued for only allowing in skilled workers earning more than £38,000.

The New Conservatives also argued for capping the number of refugees at 20,000, restricting existing schemes for refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong, imposing a 5% cap on the amount of social housing that can be given to non-UK nationals and raising the immigration health surcharge to £2,700 per person a year.

They are supportive of Suella Braverman’s anti-immigration bill – which would criminalise those who arrive in Britain by small boats and other means, something which migrants’ rights groups say would effectively make seeking refugee in Britain by most means illegal.

Hunt said: "I know there is a lot being written about ‘Tory rebels’ et cetera.

“I’ll just make it absolutely clear, that is not how we see it. I supported Rishi Sunak to become Prime Minister, I do not regret the decision I made.

“I think particularly on illegal migration he has been incredibly brave with the policies he has adopted, particularly in relation to the Illegal Migration Bill and his continued support for the Rwanda policy.”

What influence might they have?

The group is made up of backbenchers, i.e. MPs who do not have jobs in the Government. They do however have links with some at the top of the Tory tree.

Despite Anderson’s no-show on Monday, Hunt insisted the Tory deputy chairman was “very much part of our group”.

Hunt said: “He’s a vice chairman of the party so he doesn’t officially endorse policy proposals to the party, understandably.

“But he is very much part of our group, very supportive of what we are doing and said so publicly, so he is very much on board with what we are doing.”

The Guardian reported that John Redwood, a friend of the Home Secretary, was in attendance at the event.

The SNP hit out at the group's proposals, highlighting plans to cut the number of migrants working in the care sector.

Alison Thewliss, the party's home affairs spokesperson, said: "These draconian Tory plans are a threat to Scotland’s economy, NHS and public services - and they show exactly why Scotland needs the full powers of independence.

“Scotland's NHS, care sector and key industries are already facing staffing shortages because of Brexit - and these wreckless plans to slash the number of overseas carers, nurses and workers would do even more damage to Scotland's economy and public services."