International trade secretary Liam Fox: The cabinet is still divided over migration figures

Mark Sands
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International Trade Secretary Liam Fox Visits Manchester
The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

International trade secretary Liam Fox has revealed the continuing divides at the heart of Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet over migration numbers.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has previously rejected government policy on migration statistics, arguing student numbers should be excluded. But Downing Street has rejected any change to the way the numbers are compiled.

Today, Fox echoed Johnson, telling peers he is also fighting to reform the government's position.

"It's an ongoing argument inside government and I've made my views on that clear in private to the home secretary," Fox told the Lords International Relations Committee.

"I think there is a value for those who come and study in the United Kingdom. I 100 per cent accept the point that they will be in many cases imbued by the values that they experience while they are here; many of them will go on to establish long-term relationships with the United Kingdom, understanding our institutions."

The government has long held the ambition of cutting net migration, including students, to below 100,000.

A Downing Street spokesman said today that position has not changed.

The most recent net migration figures showed a small dip in the numbers coming to the UK, although the total remained far above the government target at 273,000.

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