Points-based immigration system could be in place two years earlier than originally planned
A points-based immigration system could be in place two years earlier than originally planned, according to reports.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is reportedly set to tell her cabinet colleagues that Britain should implement an Australian-style system before the end of the year – to coincide with the end of Britain’s transition period with the EU. “We need to deliver change and businesses need to be prepared for uncontrolled migration of low-skilled workers to end this year. “There is a clear drive for talented and skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK, but we also need to see a reduction in the number of unskilled workers entering the UK and that’s why this will be coming to an end.”
The reports come as Boris Johnson called for the UK to be the “investment partner of choice” for Africa and said his government would put “people before passports”. He said: “Change is coming and our system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from. “By putting people before passports, we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be.”
The prime minister announced an end to UK support in thermal coal mining and coal power plants overseas during a speech at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in Greenwich. Far fewer of the continent’s 54 leaders are in attendance in London than went to the Russia-Africa event last year, or China’s recent investment summits. Mr Johnson said the UK conference was “long overdue” and added: “We have no divine right to that business. “This is a competitive world. You have many suitors.”
The UK’s existing immigration plan drawn up under Theresa May would have provided a temporary extension of EU rules after the Brexit implementation period, which comes to an end on 31 December 2020. A change like this could impact businesses, as groups like the Confederation of British Industry previously said companies need “at least two years to adapt to any new immigration system”.
Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary, said: “This is an ill-informed and reactionary policy that will damage us all, damaging to everything from the NHS to other public services and some of our key private sector industries. “Ministers talk about ending uncontrolled migration when they have been in office for 10 years. In reality this is just a new twist in the long Tory campaign against migrants, scape goating them for the terrible effects of Tory policies.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said: “Decisions like this make it loud and clear that this Conservative Government has no intention of ending the hostile environment. It’s a national embarrassment. “For business and our economy, such draconian changes to immigration rules is utterly unworkable. To think the Home Office could implement the changes in the time given is a joke.”
Dr Alan Gamlen of Monash University in Melbourne said the Australian system is a “general skilled migration programme, where immigrants applying for a visa are typically selected based on ‘economically relevant characteristics’ like education, language skills and work experience”. He said: “The exact way points are allocated changes depending on policy and the labour market but typically an applicant picks a ‘skilled occupation’ from a list and needs to score a minimum number of points.”
During the December election, Mr Johnson said the system would mean lower-skilled workers would come to the UK when there was a specific shortage.
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