The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended against a full replacement of EU free movement to a full points-based immigration system post-Brexit and said that the salary cap should be lowered by £4,000 — moves that Migration Watch UK warned would result in the UK losing control of immigration.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a body that advises the government on immigration, released its assessment on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposals to introduce an Australia-style immigration system and extend the £30,000 salary threshold for skilled migrants to all immigrants, including those from the EU. Key workers such as teachers and skilled NHS staff already benefit from a lower threshold.
The report released on Tuesday advises that the UK lower the cap by more than £4,000 to £25,600. It also recommended a separate immigration rule allowing those with skills and “high potential” to be granted entry to the UK even if they do not have a job.
Farming and hospitality sector chiefs have been pushing the government to not introduce a skills- and salary-based immigration system, with bosses wanting to continue to exploit cheap foreign labour to keep British workers’ wages down. These wishes were alluded to in the remarks of MAC chairman Alan Manning who said: “The largest impacts will be in low-wage sectors and the government needs to be clear about its plans for lower-skilled work migration.”
Speaking to reporters after the report was released, Mr Manning claimed that introducing an immigration system that controlled migration would have “zero effect” on UK wages and British employment opportunity, contrary to industry bosses admitting that free movement of EU citizens helped suppress British wages before the referendum, while a senior recruitment firm said that a shortage of cheap labour resulted in a rise in wages post-Brexit.
“Immigration hasn’t really harmed people’s employment opportunities or their wages but equally it hasn’t really benefitted them very much either,” the MAC chief said.
A government spokesman said: “The Government will introduce a firmer and fairer points-based immigration system from 2021 that welcomes talent from around the world while reducing low-skilled migrants and bringing overall numbers down.
“We will carefully consider the report before setting out further details on the new system.”
Boris Plan to Cut Wage Requirements Would Invite Unlimited Immigration, Think Tank Warns https://t.co/lkX78Eq8GT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 23, 2020
Mass migration-sceptic think tank Migration Watch UK warned that “no cap equals no control”, in comments seen by Breitbart London.
Chairman of Migration Watch UK Alp Mehmet said: “These are dangerous proposals. They would see the main route for work having much lower salary and qualification levels than apply to non-EU migrants now and jobs will no longer need to be advertised first in the UK. All this with no annual cap on the main route. Without this, there can be no control.
“The MAC have also left open the possibility of low skilled workers coming for shorter (undefined) periods. There must be a considerable risk that the numbers will run away as they have on previous occasions.”
In three previous election manifestos, the Tories had pledged to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands; in the December 2019 pledge, the Conservatives had dropped mention of a cap altogether.
Speaking ahead of last month’s generation election, Mr Mehmet told Breitbart London in an exclusive interview: “The Tories have frankly run scared of their previous commitments and promises that they would reduce immigration. ‘Get it down to tens of thousands’ they said, which frankly was not a bad objective.”
“They couldn’t do it, largely because they were afraid,” he added.
The think tank chief also criticised Mr Johnson’s policy for an Australia-style immigration system which lacked a numbers cap, saying it was “nonsense” to believe it would reduce immigration.
Mr Mehmet said: “It’s going to do no such thing. Unless they intend to include the sort of elements in the system that will reduce numbers and that’s having caps.”
“A cap on the number of workers coming in. The Australians have it, why not we… if we are going to introduce that sort of system?” he concluded.Kurt Zindulka