Labour's London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has called the government’s immigration policies for students “silly”, just days after home secretary Theresa May took a hard line against visas for postgraduates.
In a speech at the Institute of Directors (IoD) yesterday, Khan said: “As mayor, I’ll stand up to the silly visa restrictions this government has placed on students. Students are not immigrants, and it’s about time ministers realised this.”
On Tuesday, in a speech to the Tory faithful in Manchester, May blamed students for the rise in net migration to the UK, saying: “If they have a graduate job, that is fine. If not, they must return home,” she said, adding: “I don’t care what the university lobbyists say: the rules must be enforced.”
In her speech, May said that immigrants were preventing Britain from having a “cohesive society”.
Business groups slammed the home secretary’s speech, calling her stance “irresponsible” and “nonsense”.
Simon Walker, head of the IoD said: “It is yet another example of the home secretary turning away the world’s best and brightest, putting internal party politics ahead of the country, and helping our competitor economies instead of our own.”
Khan was also speaking on the links between Britain and India. Saying that London is “built on trade”, Khan said the capital’s “openness to people, ideas and commerce has for centuries been the engine of growth”.
He vowed to “bang the drum for London across the globe” and promote the city as a foreign investment destination and a home for overseas firms.
Khan also said he saw “the enormous potential for London’s insurance, pension and financial markets” to engage with Indian markets, saying: “British banks lend more to India than any other country - but with a mushrooming middle class swelling to over 300m, this market is only going to get bigger.”