Boris Johnson has today set out his plan to develop and introduce a new immigration system modelled on the Australian Points Based System to restore the public’s faith in our immigration system.
Boris Johnson said:
“We will restore democratic control of immigration policy after we leave the EU. We must be much more open to high skilled immigration such as scientists but we must also assure the public that, as we leave the EU, we have control over the number of unskilled immigrants coming into the country. We must be tougher on those who abuse our hospitality. Other countries such as Australia have great systems and we should learn from them.
“We must also ensure that EU nationals’ rights are protected. This should have happened straight after the referendum. I will sort it out immediately and make sure that this issue is properly dealt with and millions of people can stop worrying.”
INTRODUCING AN AUSTRALIAN STYLE SYSTEM
- The Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (link) goes some way to rectifying the problems with the current immigration system. The current Bill has many good points: it ends free movement of people and applies the same immigration system for all nationalities (i.e. the existing automatic preference for EU citizens will end). However, the Bill does not set out the details of what the new immigration system will look like from 2021 onwards.
- On 19 December 2018, the Home Secretary set out the Government’s detailed proposals for ‘The UK’s future skills-based immigration system’. The Government is consulting on the proposals for one year (HM Government, December 2018, link). As the Government states: ‘we cannot set out all the detailed arrangements that will need to form part of the future arrangements in 2021 and beyond. We will need further evidence and advice, and we want to work with businesses and other employers to shape both the final rules and processes’ (HM Government, December 2018, link).
- If he is elected Prime Minister then Boris will continue to steer the Immigration Bill through Parliament and, as part of the consultation for the new immigration system, Boris will also ask the MAC to look at what elements of the Australian points-based system can be incorporated into the new immigration system that will be rolled out from 2021.
It will be for the MAC to come up with detailed proposals, however they will be instructed that, under this new system, people should be admitted to the UK on the basis of:
- Contribution: immigrants will be expected to contribute to the UK. People should have a firm job offer before they come. They should have the ability to speak English and not be able to claim benefits immediately.
- Fairness: immigration needs to be fair to people living here, those arriving shouldn’t ‘cut ahead in the queue’, overstretch public services, suppress wages or cut investment in training.
- Control: every person should have to apply to come to the UK before they do. Proper checks will be carried out on anyone coming to the UK – this ‘vetting’ would be effective to stop criminals and others who pose a threat coming here.
- Specific elements of the Australian system that will be investigated include, among other things, the need for simplicity; the effectiveness of their specific points based system; and the criteria by which points are allocated in Australia. While the intention is not to copy the Australian system wholesale, this review will allow the MAC to identify elements that can be applied in the UK. The introduction of a new system should also be seen as a historic opportunity to introduce a much simpler immigration system.
As part of their terms of reference, the MAC will have to consider:
- Specific stakeholder concerns: as part of the 12-month investigation, the MAC will need to engage with key stakeholders from both the public and state sectors to assess what they need from the new immigration system and what impact any specific proposals might have on different parts of the UK economy and public life.
- Specific regional needs: as part of the 12-month investigation, the MAC will need to engage with the devolved Governments and local Government to assess the impact of any proposals on the different parts of the UK. It should also consider what can be incorporated into the future immigration system to make sure that regional concerns can be addressed on a rolling basis.
2. TAKING EXTRA STEPS TO PROTECT EU NATIONALS
- Boris always opposed the use of EU citizens living in the UK as bargaining chips in the negotiations. In July 2016, shortly after the EU referendum, Boris voted in favour of a motion stating: ‘That this House notes that there are approximately three million nationals of other EU member states living in the UK; further notes that many more UK nationals are related to nationals of other EU member states; rejects the view that these men, women and children should be used as bargaining chips in negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU; and calls on the Government to commit with urgency to giving EU nationals currently living in the UK the right to remain’ (Hansard, 6 July 2016,link).
- In order to create certainty, Boris will commit to making sure that – no matter what – EU nationals’ rights are protected if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. We will therefore take immediate steps to protect EU nationals living here. The ‘Statement of Intent’ will continue as before (HM Government, June 2018, link). We will expect EU Member States to implement arrangements around residence for UK citizens currently living in the EU, but will never play games with EU citizens living here.
- Boris will continue the roll out of ‘settled status’ and ‘pre-settled status’ scheme as before. This will be honoured in all circumstances – we will never use EU citizens as a bargaining chip.