George Osborne has rejected Theresa May’s suggestion that immigration causes unemployment – noting that the claim is contradicted by “hard data”.
The former chancellor said the claim, included in the Prime Minister’s Tory conference speech last month, “doesn’t really stack up” because of simultaneous record employment and immigration to the UK.
Ms May claimed to Tory delegates at the start of October that people across Britain found “themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration” – and that this was a reason for restricting immigration.
Mr Osborne was speaking on Wednesday evening at the London School of Economics, which is launching a commission on how to spur economic growth despite a looming Brexit.
He may have used the event to hint at a possible political retirement, quipping that he was MP for Tatton “for the moment, while the seat exists”. He remains an MP despite his close ally David Cameron’s resignation and his sacking from the front bench by Ms May.
Asked about immigration, Mr Osborne told the audience of academics: “Remember, we are close to full employment in this country, so I think the argument that somehow immigrants are taking jobs that are leaving a load of people unemployment in Britain doesn’t really stack up because there aren’t loads of people unemployed in Britain.
George, please don't retire. You are far too young. We so need you back on the front bench.