Mishal Husain clashed with a right-wing Tory MP over radical plans to slash immigration by 400,000 within the next 18 months.
The Radio 4 presenter was interviewing Miriam Cates who is part of a group of Conservative backbenchers demanding net migration be brought down below 226,000 before the next general election.
That is the level it was at in 2019, when the Tory general election manifesto pledged to bring it down.
The New Conservative Group of backbench Tories will today unveil their 12-point plan to reduce the number of overseas workers coming to the UK.
Their plans include closing the temporary visa scheme which allows British care homes to recruit staff from overseas.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Cates said care home bosses should employ “local young people” instead of relying on foreign labour.
Husain told her: “There are residential care homes which simply would not be able to say to hospitals ‘we are ready, we have the beds, you can discharge people’ if they weren’t recruiting from overseas.”
Cates said: “But we have five million people economically inactive in this country ...”
Husain hit back: “But they don’t want to work in care, so who does those jobs?”
Cates replied: “Well they’re not going to work in care until we make the pay and conditions good enough, and the only way we’re going to do that is to cut off the supply of cheap labour from abroad.”
But Cates was stumped when Husain asked her how much she believed care home workers should be paid.
She said: “Let me use the analogy of during the pandemic when we had an HGV driver shortage and lots of people called then to say we must issue more visas to abroad to get more drivers.
“But we didn’t, we made supply side reform and guess what? Haulage forms put up their wages, they attracted more workers and solved the problem without issuing visas to abroad. That’s exactly the same economic and market principle that we need to apply.”
Husain said: “So what should a care home pay?”
Cates replied: “I don’t know Mishal.”
Husain said: “You haven’t thought about it?”
Cates responded: “We could have an argument about how much we should pay for all different sectors.”
A clearly-exasperated Husain said: “You would reduce health and care workers by half, the numbers that currently come in from overseas ...”
But Cates said: “No, I would reduce the number of visas available.”
Husain hit back: “They come in on visas.”
Insisting care homes should recruit “local young people”, Cates said: “We are never ever going to make that possible unless we close the immigration route first.”
The New Conservative Group manifesto is yet another challenge to the authority of Rishi Sunak, who has promised to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.
Among the group’s members is Tory vice-chairman Lee Anderson.
Cates has previously caused controversy by claiming “children’s souls” are being destroyed by “cultural Marxism” in schools.