Politics

Tories to finally unveil post-Brexit immigration plan after huge row

Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid will finally unveil his plan for immigration after Brexit today, with a pledge to "get control over our borders."

Mr Javid will publish the much-delayed White Paper on the proposals, which the Government says will mark the end of free movement.

Under the blueprint, there will be a new visa route for skilled workers and no cap on high-skilled professions such as doctors and engineers.

Mr Javid said: "We are delivering on the clear instruction to get control over our borders and will bring in a new system that works in the interest of the British people.

"It will be a single, skills-based immigration system built around the talent and expertise people can bring, rather than where they come from – maximising the benefits of immigration and demonstrating the UK is open for business."

The document is also expected to include details of the approach to low-skilled workers.

It has been reported they may be able to apply for short-term visas of up to a year.

There have also been reports that the proposals could include a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled migrants seeking five-year visas.

Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “The Government has disgracefully labelled workers on less than £30,000 as low-skilled. Our economy and public services are kept ticking by this majority of workers.

“The Government is not, as it wrongly claims, using a skills-based criteria to meet the needs of our economy and our society. It is using an income-based system which allows derivatives traders free movement but which excludes nurses, social care workers and other professions in which we have severe skills or labour shortages.

“The Tories are, once again, using crude anti-migrant rhetoric to try to cover up for their abject failure of managing the economy and the Brexit negotiations.”

Confirming that the White Paper will be published following suggestions it may be further delayed, the Home Office said the UK will have full control over who comes here, with everyone needing permission before they arrive.

This will enable employers to have access to the skills they need from around the world, while ensuring net migration is reduced to "sustainable levels", the department added.

The new immigration and borders system will be implemented in a "phased" approach from 2021, following the post-exit transition period.

On Thursday, an Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill will be presented in the House of Commons.

As well as measures to end free movement, it creates the legal framework for a future, single benefits system that will apply to both EU and non-EU nationals.

The White Paper was initially due to be published more than a year ago, but it was held back while the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) carried out a detailed analysis.

The MAC’s report, published in September, concluded that the new system should make it easier for higher-skilled workers to come to the country.

It recommended ministers scrap an annual cap of 20,700 on the number of visas available under the Tier 2 skilled work scheme, and open up the route to "medium-skilled" jobs.

But it said access to Britain’s jobs market should be restricted for lower-skilled migrants.

There will be focus on whether the Tory target of cutting net migration to the tens of thousands is mentioned in the blueprint.

The target, which has never been met, has been championed by Theresa May.

Mr Javid has backed bringing net migration down to "sustainable levels" but has steered clear of explicitly backing the tens of thousands figure.

Estimated net long-term international migration to the UK – the difference between the numbers arriving and leaving for at least 12 months – was 273,000 in the year to June.

While EU net migration has fallen, sparking claims of a "Brexodus", the latest figures showed non-EU net migration was at the highest level since 2004.

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