Call for new migrant freeze: UK ‘needs five-year ban on unskilled workers to hit targets’
THERESA May is being urged to adopt a five-year freeze on unskilled migrants and impose a 50,000-a-year cap on all new arrivals.
Brexit group Leave Means Leave says the measures will help migration back to levels last seen in the 1990s and finally hit the failed Tory target of tens of thousands.
The group, backed by former Cabinet ministers as well as 15 Tory MPs, says Brexit provides a “golden opportunity” to stem immigration at last.
It is particularly concerned about unskilled labour which pressure group Migration Watch claims makes up 80 per cent of existing EU incomers.
The blueprint for “fair” immigration has been drawn up by former UKIP leadership candidate Steven Woolfe.
He wants to see the introduction of a “British working visa system” and have Parliament vote each year on a fi gure for net migration.
Many pro-Brexit supporters were angered last week when the Prime Minister hinted that free movement from the EU could continue for years into an “implementation period” after leaving in 2019.
In a speech introducing his findings today Mr Woolfe, now an independent, says Britain needs an immigration system that is “fair in its outlook, flexible in practice and forward-thinking for our economy.
“It won’t mean pulling up the drawbridge as we will continue to encourage the best and the brightest to migrate and settle here.
“But by introducing strict controls, an annual cap and a five-year freeze on unskilled migrants, it will reduce net migration year on year, lessen the strain on our public services and help build a more cohesive society”.
His report states that a five-year freeze on unskilled migrants would significantly reduce immigration from its current level of 273,000 a year.
Work permits would only be granted if the applicant had a job offer with a minimum £35,000 salary, had passed an English test, signed a five-year private health insurance contract and could show savings in the bank.
Among the other recommendations is a proposal to combine work visas with an Australian style points system aimed at judging the annual immigration need for different parts of the UK and different sectors.
It also urges the Government not to give preferential treatment to EU citizens as part of a deal for leaving the failed economic bloc.
He wants those in the UK to be allowed to stay but anybody who arrived after March 29, the day Article 50 was triggered, should not have the same rights.
The report says there should be no cap on highly skilled workers, entrepreneurs, investors or those in the highly skilled top category, or restrictions on students.
It also wants a new body set up to assess NHS needs and ensure it is fully staffed. Former Tory minister Sir Gerald Howarth described the report as “thoughtful, measured and constructive”.
He said the paper set out practical measures “suggesting an annual limit of 50,000 which I welcome”.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are working across Government to identify and develop options to shape our future system to ensure the best possible outcome for the British people.
“We want to see net migration fall to sustainable levels – the tens of thousands.”
April 10th, 2017: Express