U.K. Will Bring Down Migrant Numbers After Brexit, Davis Says

The U.K. will bring down immigration after it completes its withdrawal from the European Union, Brexit Secretary David Davis said, responding to what he called a “clear message” from the country’s referendum in June.

Britain will also strive to preserve the “freest possible trade” with the EU’s other 27 members post-Brexit, Davis told delegates at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, England on Sunday.

David Davis

David Davis

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Brexit doesn’t mean “pulling up the drawbridge,” Davis said. “We will always welcome those with the skills, the drive and the expertise to make our nation better still. If we are to win in the global marketplace, we must win the global battle for talent.

Immigration was one of the main driving forces behind Britain’s decision to leave the EU, with voters citing the pressure on jobs, schools and hospitals. Net migration to Britain was a near-record 327,000 in the year through March, including 180,000 EU citizens, according to the most recent Office for National Statistics data.

‘‘The clear message from the referendum is this: we must be able to control immigration,’’ Davis said. ‘‘Let us be clear, we will control our own borders and we will bring the numbers down.’’

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