David Davis has warned immigration levels could rise – but only if it is in Britain's interests
Speaking on Question Time, the Brexit Secretary tried to alleviate fears about a shortage of migrant workers for British industry amid fears that Britain’s EU exit could prompt difficulties for those dependent on workers from overseas.
However, he reiterated the Tory pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands as part of a “sustainable” policy.
Mr Davis said: "The first issue here is to bring this back under the control of the UK Government, the UK Parliament.
"I don't think most people oppose migration, I think most people are in favour of migration so long as it's managed. The point is, it will need to be managed."
He added that Home Secretary Amber Rudd would be tasked with migration management but said: "I cannot imagine that the policy will be anything other than that which is in the national interest.
Nick Clegg & David Davis found very little common ground during the debate
I don't think most people oppose migration, I think most people are in favour of migration so long as it's managed
“From time to time we will need more, from time to time we will need less.
"That is how it will no doubt work and that will be in everybody's interests – the migrants and the citizens of the UK."
Asked whether that would mean an increase on current migration levels, he said: "What it will be is whatever the Government judges to be sustainable."
What Theresa May's 12-point Brexit plan really means Mon, January 16, 2017
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Continued cooperation with the EU to tackle terrorism and international crime.
When host David Dimbleby pushed Mr Davis to confirm whether the Government still hoped to bring net migration down to under 100,000, he said: "I think we will get there, but the simple truth is that we have to manage this properly.
“You have got industries dependent on migrants, you have got social welfare, the NHS, you have to make sure they can do the work."
The panelists were in Birmingham for a Question Time Brexit special
In response, the SNP’s Alex Salmond said: "Nurse registrations from Europe have dropped 75 per cent since Brexit. In a full year that will mean there will be 7,000 less qualified nurses from elsewhere in the EU working in our NHS."
With taking control of British borders a key reason behind many people’s decision to vote to leave the EU, the Prime Minister made sure that curbing immigration was central to the 12-point Brexit plan she delivered in January.
Mrs May said the UK is prepared to leave the single market in order to regain control over the immigration of EU workers.