RISHI Sunak dodged the question when challenged on whether he plans to scrap graduate work visas – despite opposition from within his own Cabinet.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn raised the visa issue with Sunak amid reports that he had U-turned on plans to scrap it.

The graduate work visa allows foreign graduates of UK universities to apply to stay and work in the country for two years after finishing their course – or three if they complete a PhD.

Earlier in May, the government advisers on the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) concluded that the graduate visa scheme should continue unchanged after completing a review commissioned by the Home Secretary.

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On Thursday, the Office for National Statistics is due to publish net migration figures, which Sunak is keen to drive down ahead of a General Election.

Reports suggest that Sunak may have been persuaded to keep the graduate scheme in place, but the Prime Minister refused to give a straight answer when challenged by Flynn.

The SNP group leader said: “I was taken aback this week when a former prime minister spoke some sense.

“Alas, it was indeed David Cameron, because what he said was that in relation to graduate work visas, if any restrictions are implemented, it will lead to job losses.

“It will lead to university closures. It will lead to a reduction in research. Universities Scotland's outlined £5 billion of economic value at risk.

“So can I ask the Prime Minister: does he agree with the Foreign Secretary?”

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Responding, Sunak (above) said: “The Foreign Secretary also said that the levels of legal migration to this country are too high, Mr Speaker, and that's what I believe also, which is why it is right that we are taking decisive action to bring the numbers down.

“And Mr Speaker, that plan is working. In the first three months of this year, the visas issued are down by 25%.

“Migration is on its way to being returned to more sustainable levels, and I appreciate that is a point of difference between the [SNP] and indeed the Labour Party and us.

READ MORE: Home Secretary challenged on visa scheme for Scottish university graduates

“We believe that level of migration needs to come down to more sustainable levels so we ease the pressure on public services – and everyone who comes to our country must indeed contribute economically. That's the migration system we will deliver.”

The Scottish Government has suggested a bespoke visa scheme for Scottish universities, which would allow foreign graduates to stay in the country and work for five years after graduating.

Carol Monaghan, the SNP’s education spokesperson at Westminster, raised the issue with the Home Secretary in a letter earlier in May.