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This week it has been officially announced by Theresa May that a points-based immigration, which was suggested and back during the official Brexit Campaign, will not be happening. Ms May ruled out the system while promising a better way of bringing ‘some control’ over the number of people aiming to settle in Britain.
The news sparked accusations of backsliding on promises made by the Vote Leave campaign. A policy point that was backed by many, May has almost done a U-turn on that promise after casting doubt on the effectiveness of a system that allows people in on the basis of their skills. She also refused to commit to an added £100m going to the NHS.
The announcement came at Monday’s G20 press conference, where May insisted that she opposed a points-based system due to the fact that it didn’t allow the government enough of a say over who actually comes to the country. She dismissed comments that she was going soft on immigration control by saying, ‘What the British people voted for on 23 June was to bring some control into the movement of people from the European Union to the UK. A points-based system does not give you that control.’
To support her point, May highlighted that Heathrow staff had informed David Cameron and herself that immigrants were blatantly abusing the student visa rules through a points-based system. ‘But because they met the criteria, they were automatically let in… That’s the problem with a points-based system. I want a system where the government is able to decide who comes into the country. I think that’s what the British people want.’
In addition, this week following former Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s suggestion that Ms May was betraying leave voters, No. 10 respond by issuing the following statement on Monday outlining the government plans to create an immigration system that offers a heightened level of control in comparison to a points-based system. The spokeswoman said. ‘One of the opportunities of Brexit is that we will be able to control the number of people coming to Britain from the EU. The precise way in which the government will control the movement of EU nationals to Britain after Brexit is yet to be determined. However, as the PM has said many times in the past, a points-based system will not work and is not an option.’
‘When Labour introduced a points-based immigration system, the numbers went straight up. In Australia, they have a points-based system and they have higher immigration per capita than Britain. A points-based system would give foreign nationals the right to come to Britain if they meet certain criteria. An immigration system that works for Britain would ensure that the right to decide who comes to the country resides with the government.’
The points-based system that applies to migrants all over the world, was first put forward by Ukip before it quickly grew strength under the Leave campaign, led by the foreign secretary Boris Johnson. The idea was to simply give equal access to the UK based on a person’s skills or qualifications, without offering any special access to those from the EU.
May’s comments have sparked much criticism from Remain campaigners as well as Farage, stating that it was a clear sign that the people who chose to leave the EU have been misled. Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP and chair of campaign group Vote Leave Watch, said, ‘Boris Johnson and his Vote Leave colleagues spent the whole referendum campaign making impossible promises they knew they couldn’t keep. It’s now clear that very few of their pledges were worth the paper they were written on. Theresa May cannot be let off the hook either. After barely campaigning for remain, our unelected prime minister now contemptuously dismisses policies such as increasing spending on the NHS which people voted on in good faith and great numbers.’
Sources from No. 10 say that May will still honour the essence of what the people actually voted for by introducing a system that will be more efficient at preventing high levels of immigration than what was suggested by Vote Leave. Early guesses have stated that this could be done through a work permit, visa system, restrictions on entry to those awaiting job offers, an emergency brake or even a quota system. That been said, the PM at this point hasn’t given anything away in the form of how this will be done. Furthermore, she still hasn’t given guidance on the preferential access to EU citizens.
The current problem that still remains for the country is that several EU countries have indicated that the UK will not get specialist terms for trading unless they accept a degree of free movement for EU citizens.