British Prime Minister Theresa May must introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system by 2020 or risk a backlash from the electorate, colleagues in the Conservative Party have warned.
Theresa Villiers, who served as Northern Ireland Secretary until Mrs May came to power last month, said the government must end “open door” immigration after the vote to leave the European Union (EU).
Her call was joined by former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith who said that politicians would be “living in cloud cuckoo land” if they thought the British public did not reject free movement of people when they voted for Brexit.
The Telegraph reports that at least five members of Mrs May’s cabinet – Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Priti Patel, Chris Grayling and Andrea Leadsom – would like to see Britain introduce a point-based system once it leaves the EU.
However, Home Secretary Amber Rudd criticised the idea during the referendum campaign, and Mrs May herself has never expressed support.
Under a points-based system, only migrants with specific skill sets would be allowed to work and settle in Britain, depending on the needs of the economy.
Iain Duncan Smith told the Telegraph: “It is my view that we will have left the EU by the time of the next election which means we have to have a system in place that controls migration.
“People are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think the British voters did anything else but absolutely vote to take back control. It was very explicit that means migration and that’s exactly what they voted for.”
The calls come as think-tank Policy Exchange recommends Britain should create a separate Immigration Ministry to bring migration back under control.
At the moment, immigration is the responsibility of the Home Office, but Policy Exchange has called on the government to set up a “Department for Immigration and Integration” in order to reduce levels and monitor new arrivals to make sure they contribute towards society.
The group argues that this new department would allow Britain to reduce migration levels after Brexit without harming the economy.
David Goodhart, who wrote the report, said: “The Government needs to get a grip on who is coming into Britain, where they are living and what public services they are accessing.”
“Roughly two million people arrive in the UK on visas every year and too many are overstaying,” he added.
“We have to urgently address the resentment that people feel about the fact that some migrants use Britain as a sort of economic transit camp.”