Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick has refused to rule out a bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party during an interview with GB News.
He was asked by Camilla Tominey today if he was in talks with the New Conservative grouping of MPs and lining himself up to be a future leader of the party.
Jenrick replied: “What I am trying to do is to make an argument and part of that is around illegal migration. I think that for too long, too few politicians have gone and argued that we need to take the most robust action.
“And so if I can help the Conservative Party by making that argument very strongly, then I will do because I think there is a path to victory at the next General Election. But it goes through taking the strongest possible approach on migration.”
Asked if would stand in the future as leader, he said: “Well, look, I’m not ruling it out. But that’s not my intention here. What I really want to do is make and hopefully win this central argument for the Conservative Party’s future.“
Commenting on a report that 16,000 migrants who arrived in the UK on small boats have been given jobs, he said: “I think that’s wrong. I don’t agree that asylum seekers should work.
“There is a very long-standing policy that dates back to the Labour government in 2005 to allow people who’ve been here for years to work in certain occupations where there are supposedly shortages, but it just creates a pull factor to the UK.
“And almost everyone who comes here is either an economic migrant or a sort of asylum shopper, because they’re coming from safe countries like France and choosing to come to the UK because they think life is better here or a softer touch. And so I don’t think that’s the right approach.”
On former Home Secretary John Reid describing the Home Office as a “basket case”, he said: “Well, I think it’s a bad captain who blames his crew, but it was a department that faced immense challenges and you saw in recent years some of those issues like this backlog of cases that grew up, like the appalling waste of taxpayers’ money with hotels.
“I think there is a lack of operational expertise there because billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being spent and you need really good people to be doing the job bringing in expertise from the private sector. For example, and more accountability as well for officials who get things wrong.”
Asked if the department should be split up, he said: “I think there’s a case for doing that and creating a very tough borders department which is solely focused on securing our borders, stopping illegal migration, but I mean, that’s really for another day.”