UK's May promises voters immigration curbs, fairer society

Theresa May

May The Conservative Party will expand The Pensions Regulator’s powers

Annual net immigration would be reduced to tens of thousands if the Conservatives retained power, the party's manifesto said.

She restated her determination to get a good Brexit deal for Britain, but said her manifesto also addressed the "giant" challenges of building a strong economy, tackling social division and meeting the pressures of an ageing society and fast-changing technology.

"There is no Mayism" echoed around the hall in Halifax where Theresa May launched the Conservative manifesto.

Thursday's manifesto said a new Conservative government would reduce and control immigration from Europe following Brexit.

With these four words, Theresa May today finally distanced herself from accusations she wants to be compared to Margaret Thatcher and solidly defined what brand of Conservatism she wants people to vote for in the General Election.

May said hers was a plan for "a stronger, fairer, more prosperous Britain".

Many Britons who voted past year to leave the European Union were motivated by a desire to control immigration, which has soared as the EU has expanded.

Her collection of pre-election pledges known as a manifesto gives a glimpse of what May plans for Britain's $2.6 trillion economy as she plots tortuous Brexit divorce negotiations with the 27 other members of the European Union. On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Britain will be made to pay a price if it limits immigration from the region after 2019.

It says businesses that bring in foreign workers must contribute to the training of British workers, so they too can access skilled jobs.

The manifesto, however, makes clear that May would enter negotiations with a "spirit of honest co-operation", with the aim of striking a favorable deal for Britain.

The size of Britain's "Brexit bill" is expected to be one of the first flashpoints in the exit talks.

There are also proposals to seek recommendations about better aligning the visa system with industrial strategy, with the intention of enabling the government to "set aside significant numbers of visas for workers in strategically-important sectors" without adding to "net migration as a whole".

Instead of taking part, Mr Corbyn led Labour's fightback following the launch of the Tory manifesto, saying: "Theresa May's nasty party has launched a shameful attack on older people - introducing a compassion tax to force those in need of social care to pay for it with their family home".

While she promised corporation tax will fall to 17% and VAT tax would stay "as low as possible", she said Chancellor Philip Hammond had the leeway to raise other taxes. A payment that pensioners now receive to help pay winter fuel bills will in future go only to the poorest.

This is a marked contrast to Labour's manifesto, which directly opposed fracking because "it would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels, long after the point in 2030 when the Committee on Climate Change says gas in the United Kingdom must sharply decline".

Both Labour and the Green party announced plans to ban fracking in their respective manifestos, but the Conservatives have committed to develop its use in Britain "if we maintain public confidence in the process, if we uphold our rigorous environmental protections, and if we ensure the proceeds of the wealth generated by shale energy are shared with the communities affected".

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