Home secretary Amber Rudd is hinting at ongoing divides over the Conservatives migration target

Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

Home secretary Amber Rudd has risked opening up old wounds over the Conservatives' net migration target, refusing to guarantee whether it will be in the party's 2017 manifesto.

The goal of reducing net migration to below 100,000 was first introduced by former Prime Minister David Cameron, but his successor Theresa May has remained steadfastly committed to the target.

May's determination has come despite public entreaties from cabinet-level ministers for change. Foreign secretary Boris Johnson and international trade secretary Liam Fox are among the senior figures to have specifically called for students to be excluded from the numbers.

And today, Rudd said she remained supportive of the commitment to reduce immigration, but declined to commit to retaining the goal in the next manifesto.

Read More: Amber Rudd: This is the end of free movement as we know it

The home secretary said the new manifesto would not be "identical" to the 2015 document.

"We've got a lot to think through to work out what is the best way to deliver on our priorities.

"My personal view is that we need to bring immigration down. I want to make sure that we do it in a way that supports businesses," she added.

And specifically pressed on whether she agreed with culture secretary Karen Bradley's suggestion that immigration "is not about the numbers", Rudd said: "It's too early to say. I appreciate you want to push me on this, but we are going to have to wait until the manifesto comes out."

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