Scrap unskilled migration from EU after Brexit, says top business group

Plans to stop low skilled migration from the EU and introduce a British work permit system to cut net migration to mid-1990s levels have been submitted to the Government.

A new policy report by Leave Means Leave – drawn up in conjunction with the country’s most senior migration experts – calls for a post-Brexit “fair, flexible and forward thinking” policy that will reduce net migration to sustainable levels and honour the result of the referendum.

The paper, which has been sent to Number 10, the Department for Exiting the EU and the Home Office ahead of publication of the Government’s white paper, calls on the Government to focus on training and upskilling British people who are currently unemployed – specifically the 800,000 16-24 year olds who are unemployed or inactive.

While the paper proposes to end low-skilled EU migration, it says that there would be no cap on highly skilled and entrepreneurial migrants from the EU. The work permit system currently used for non-EU countries would be used as companies are already familiar with it. This would end the unequal treatment of non-EU highly-skilled migrants.

This would mean that in order for a highly skilled EU migrant to get a work permit, they would need to fulfil criteria including having an offer of a graduate level job paying a minimum of £30,000 or the appropriate rate for the role, whichever is higher, a minimum level of English language competence, an appropriate amount of savings and evidence of a health insurance policy spanning the duration of the visa before admission to the UK, which would replace the current immigration health surcharge.

In respect of the NHS, both doctors and nurses would qualify as highly skilled workers and would therefore be able to continue to come to the UK under the work permit scheme.

The generous benefits enjoyed by EU citizens would come to an end as only those granted permanent residence would be eligible for social benefits, housing benefits and social housing. EU nationals who have arrived before Brexit should be able to apply for permanent residence after being in Britain for five years and if successful, would then be granted the same rights as those from outside the EU who have settled in Britain.

In order to address the needs of the agricultural and horticultural sectors, the paper calls for a revival of the seasonal agricultural workers (SAWs) scheme which would allow a short term 6 month migration visa. While there would initially be a cap of 25,000, this would be reduced over time because the need for workers is likely to decrease as technology evolves.

Under the proposals, there would be visa free travel for EU tourists after Brexit and students from the EU who wish to study in the UK would also be able to do so with ease during their studies. 

The paper calls for an upgrade to Border Force technology and systems used to monitor those entering the UK, including ensuring data on entry and exit are linked up with the visa system as well as data on national insurance.

Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP said:
“This is a sensible set of proposals for a future immigration policy that the government should adopt.
“It would deliver on the Brexit mandate both to take back control of borders and bring down net levels of migration.”
Rt Hon David Jones MP, a Board Member of Leave Means Leave said: 
“The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union provides the Government with a valuable opportunity to regain control of our own borders.
“The Leave Means Leave paper puts forward sensible immigration control policies that will safeguard the interests of EU nationals already resident in the UK whilst ensuring that business continues to obtain the supply of skilled labour that it needs.  
“This is a thoughtful document that offers practical solutions to a problem that has bedevilled governments  for many decades. I urge the Home Office to give it serious consideration.”

Commenting on the paper, Richard Tice, Co-Chair of Leave Means Leave said:

“For too long, Britain has been unable to control its borders and reduce our levels of net migration. This is because we have been subject to EU rules on freedom of movement. For the first time in forty years, the UK Government has the opportunity to take back control of immigration policy.

“EU policy has led to suppression of wages for British workers over last decade with zero real wage growth.

“We are proposing a policy that addresses the views of the public, the needs of business and the economy, the impact on the population and public services as well as international obligations.

“This must be implemented from 30th March 2019.

“We urge the Government to adopt our fair, flexible and forward thinking post-Brexit immigration policy.”