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Robert Jenrick dubbed Suella 2.0 as he wins battle for tougher migration rules

Getting a package of tough new migration rules over the line sparked elation within the Government after weeks of back-and-forth over how hardline they could be without tanking the economy and Britain’s health system.

“We don’t get many immigration wins in the Home Office,” one relieved insider said. And while businesses and health leaders expressed deep concern about the implications of banning foreign care workers from bringing their families to Britain, and hiking the minimum salary needed for most migrants to get a visa, Conservative MPs were almost united in welcoming the package.

The eventual announcement, made by new Home Secretary James Cleverly on Monday evening, was almost identical to a proposal made by Robert Jenrick, the Immigration Minister, several months ago.

He was pushing for higher salary thresholds, curbs on who can sponsor dependants to come to Britain, and scrapping the “shortage occupations list” which allows lower-paid workers to secure visas.

Only a proposed overall cap on visa numbers was left out of the final version of the new rules.

Mr Jenrick, an increasingly outspoken figure, is said by friends to be delighted. “The only other difference from Robert’s plan is we could have done this a while back,” one ally commented.

Other colleagues have been surprised by the transformation of a once mild-mannered centrist into a firebrand who is increasingly allied with the right of the party – No 10 aides joke that they used to use him to reach out to left-wing voters through the media and now he plays the opposite role.

“Jenrick is Suella mark two,” a Labour MP remarked. The key breakthrough in the internal negotiations over the new rules came when the Treasury indicated it would not seek to water down the crackdown due to its impact on the economy, government sources said – leaving the Department for Health as the main obstacle given the likelihood that some care workers will stay away from Britain when they cannot bring family members with them.

Mr Jenrick declared victory on the broadcast media round after Monday’s announcement. He proudly told LBC: “The measures we’re bringing forward now will take time to feed through in the system, but I want to see the manifesto commitment met. That’s clearly why I have pushed for this set of measures.”

The minister appeared to go off-message when he again touted the benefits of an overall cap – asked whether he still backed the rejected policy, the minister told Times Radio: “There are merits to ideas like that. But what matters now is action. The public wants to see us actually deliver reducing levels of net migration, as I’ve been very clear, that people are sick of talk on this topic.”

No 10 was quick to slap Mr Jenrick down even on his day of celebration.

A spokesman said: “At the moment our belief is that having full control of our immigration system ensures we’re able to prioritise the skills and talent that are needed to grow the economy, support the health and care sector. We think the approach we set out yesterday achieves that and we aren’t considering a cap at this point.” The Tory debate is not over.

One red wall MP told i: “Migration will be the defining issue of the general election.”

Despite the crackdown on legal migration, many Conservatives will not be happy until illegal migration is controlled too, ideally through the successful implementation of the Rwanda deportation plan.

Members of the New Conservatives group of right-wingers met on Monday night to discuss their response to the upcoming release of legislation designed to make this happen – and agreed they had to keep the option open of resigning from Government roles if it is not robust enough.

Other MPs are in despair at colleagues’ deliberate attempts to keep this issue in the headlines.

“They are not politically savvy,” a senior member of the centrist One Nation caucus said. “Why they keep banging on about something which, to put it charitably, is not going terribly well is beyond me.”

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