POLITICS

Theresa May Downgrades Tory Immigration Pledge To A Mere 'Comment'

10/11/2014 10:16 GMT | Updated 10/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Theresa May ran into trouble with her own voice on the Today programme this morning, when she had to stop it from blurting out the wrong words.

Asked about the Conservative Party's pledge to bring immigration down to the "tens of thousands", the home secretary took a stumble. "When we made that .. err ... comment," she said.

Presenter Sarah Montague pounced. "You didn't want to say the word promise there there, wasn't it a promise?"

Having composed herself, May continued. We said we would be aiming to bring net migration to the tens of thousands and we wanted to do that within this parliament, we are very clear thats what we wanted to do."

In April, government statistics showed net migration into the UK increased by more than 38% to 243,000 in 2013-14.

The Conservative Party's "comment" on immigration was made in black and white ink in the its 2010 manifesto, which said: "So we will take steps to take net migration back to the levels of the 1990s – tens of thousands a year, not hundreds of thousands."

In speech on immigration in 2011, the prime minister said: "I believe that will mean net migration to this country will be in the order of tens of thousands each year, not the hundreds of thousands every year that we have seen over the last decade.

"Yes, Britain will always be open to the best and brightest from around the world and those fleeing persecution. But with us, our borders will be under control and immigration will be at levels our country can manage.

"No ifs. No buts. That's a promise we made to the British people. And it's a promise we are keeping."