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Theresa May vows to cut net migration to tens of thousands

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Conservative leader Theresa May has vowed to cut net migration to tens of thousands if she wins the election - keeping to the same target the party has had before.

The pledge will open her up to criticism if it is not achieved but will go down well with rank and file party members and could attract support back from those who drifted to UKIP in 2015.

Launching the party manifesto, she also reiterated a pledge to allow new grammar schools to be created, just days after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would block them and described the idea as a vanity project.

Border Control
Border Control

The manifesto said: “We will lift the ban on the establishment of new selective schools subject to conditions such as allowing pupils to join at other ages. While the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils remains at 25% across the country it falls to almost zero at selective schools.”

There was also potentially good news for rail users worried about cuts to rural services in Kent with a pledge to “launch new services in places that are poorly served or host major new housing projects.”

On immigration, she said levels in Britain were still too high.

“It is our objective to reduce it to sustainable levels by which we mean annual net migration to the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands we have seen in the last two decades.”

Ashworth was stopped at the Channel Tunnel entrance at Coquelles
Ashworth was stopped at the Channel Tunnel entrance at Coquelles

New measures on immigration included asking firms to pay more to hire migrant workers, who will in turn be asked to pay more to use the NHS.

In a confidently delivered launch, she underlined her determination to do the best for what she described as mainstream families and announced wide-ranging reforms to adult care.

"We must take this opportunity to build a great meritocracy in Britain. It means making Britain a country that works, not for the privileged few, but for everyone."

She brushed aside questions about whether she was a Thatcherite, saying: “Thatcher was a Conservative, I am a Conservative and this manifesto is Conservative.”

She also confirmed an end to the pension triple lock which guarantees a minimum annual rise in state pensions, to take on ‘inter-generational unfairness’.

On social care, people with assets of more than £100,000 would have to pay for their care - but could defer payment until after their death.

The social care changes proposed are that the value of someone's property would be included in the means test for receiving free care in their own home - currently only their income and savings are taken into account.

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