28/03/2014 08:11 GMT | Updated 28/03/2014 08:59 GMT

Net Migration Cap Risks Damaging UK Economy, Tory MP Warns

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LONDION - OCTOBER 10: Prime Minister David Cameron talks to UK border agency officials in their control room during a visit to Heathrow terminal 5, on October 10, 2011 in London, England. Cameron's visit to the airport comes ahead of his talk on immigration controls. (Photo by Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

David Cameron and home secretary Theresa May are in danger of "damaging our economy as we begin to recover" by setting an "arbitrary" cap on net migration to the UK, a Tory MP has warned.

Treasury select committee Brooks Newmark issued this warning in a blog on the Huffington Post UK, as expectations mount that the Tory pledge to cut net migration - charting the amount of people coming to Britain minus those leaving - to the "tens of thousands" by next May will fail.

"Setting an arbitrary cap on the number of people coming into our country has the potential of damaging our economy as we begin to recover. There is a skills gap in our country in healthcare, education and the financial service sector amongst others," he wrote.

"We should welcome anyone that wants to come here, work hard, pay their taxes and make a contribution to our society. Indeed, as Conservatives we should encourage those immigrants who share our values of enterprise, hard work and family. They are natural Conservative voters."

Newmark spoke out as he has thrown his weight behind the new Tory group "Conservatives for Managed Migration", which was founded by Mark Field MP, who said that many MPs were too scared of Ukip to openly talk about the benefits of immigration.

Field said he spoken to a number of other Tory MPs, who told him: "Actually, quietly we are right behind you, but we are worried about Ukip in our patch and therefore we'd rather not be publicly associated, but good luck with what you're doing."

This comes as Theresa May has reportedly been considering cutting net migration by nearly 20,000 a year by shortening visas for foreign employees so they can escape being classified as migrants.

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said: “The government has belatedly recognised the economic damage done by arbitrary limits on skilled migrants from outside the EU. So it's bending the rules and making a mockery of the policy - which is obviously absurd, but preferable to the alternative of trying to hit its own misguided target. Of course the sensible thing to do would be to drop the target entirely.”

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