Britain lifts immigration ‘cap’ for medical workers amid shortages
Pro-Brexit MP sets up Irish fund
LONDON, June 14, (Agencies): Britain said Thursday it will lift a cap on the number of visas granted to foreign doctors and nurses to help ease staffing shortfalls in the country’s National Health Service.
Prime Minister spokesman said the government would remove nonEuropean Union doctors and nurses from a cap on the number of skilled-worker visas that can be issued each year.
The cap currently restricts Tier Two visas for non-EU workers to 20,700 people per year.
The move is expected to be formally announced by the Home Office on Friday.
The Royal College of General Practitioners said it would be a “muchneeded victory for common sense and patient care.”
It’s the first easing of immigration rules by a Conservative government with a longstanding — and unmet — goal of cutting net immigration to below 100,000. It’s currently more than double that.
Critics say the target is arbitrary, unrealistic and economically harmful.
People from all 28 EU countries can currently live in Britain under the bloc’s free-movement rules. They will lose that automatic right when the UK leaves the EU next March.
Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the bloc was followed by an increase in the number of EU medical staff leaving Britain, adding to pressures on the country’s overstretched state-funded health care service.
UK to press ahead with laws:
The government will press ahead with passing legislation to end Britain’s membership of the European Union despite the devolved Scottish parliament not having granted its consent, Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said on Thursday.
Differences over Brexit have strained relations between the United Kingdom’s four nations. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU in a 2016 referendum, while Wales and England vote to leave.
Under a constitutional mechanism known as the Sewel Convention, the British parliament must seek consent from the Scottish parliament when it makes laws that have an impact on policy areas that are devolved to the Scottish government.
Scotland has so far withheld its consent. But Mundell said on Thursday that the convention did not apply in unusual circumstances like Brexit and could not impede the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
“We on this side of the house have compromised, we have made every effort to reach agreement. We have sought consent,” Mundell told parliament.
MP sets up Irish fund:
A financial firm co-founded by Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading pro-Brexit lawmaker, has set up an investment fund in Ireland and warned prospective clients about the dangers of a hard Brexit, British newspapers reported on Thursday.
Rees-Mogg’s Somerset Capital Management (SCM) launched the new fund in March, aiming it at international investors who want to keep their money in the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc in 2019.
In a “risks” section, the prospectus for the new fund said that before and after Brexit “there is likely to be considerable uncertainty as to the position of the UK and the arrangements which will apply to its relationships with the EU”.
Rees-Mogg heads up the powerful European Research Group of hardline pro-Brexit MPs who argue that the British economy will flourish once it leaves the European single market and customs union and concludes its own free-trade deals with third countries.
Rees-Mogg is a non-executive chair at SCM and is paid £14,000 (16,000 euros, $19,000) a month for around 30 hours of work there, the reports said.
“The decision to launch the fund was nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit,” Rees-Mogg was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
£1.1b for airport expansion:
London Gatwick Airport announced it was spending £1.1 billion on expanding its facilities over the next five years to accommodate a growth in passenger numbers.
Gatwick is the eighth-busiest airport in Europe and sits behind Mumbai as the world’s busiest single-runway air hub.
“Gatwick is a major piece of national infrastructure, and our continued growth and ability to attract long-haul airlines is vital for the health of the UK economy, particularly in a post-Brexit world,” said the airport’s chief executive Stewart Wingate.
“By committing to spend another £1.1 billion, Gatwick can continue to grow sustainably, attract new airlines and offer more global connections, while providing an excellent service to passengers.”
From December 2009 to the end of the new five-year investment in 2023, the total investment figure rises to £3.14 billion.
Gatwick serves more than 228 destinations in 74 countries for 45 million passengers a year. It predicts that passenger numbers will hit nearly 53 million by 2023.
Vigils, prayers mark Grenfell fire:
Survivors of London’s Grenfell Tower fire, and friends and relatives of the 71 people it killed, held vigils and prayed together as they marked the first anniversary of a disaster that still haunts Britain.
Grenfell Tower, a social housing block that was home to a close-knit, ethnically diverse community, was engulfed by flames in the middle of the night of June 14, 2017, in the country’s deadliest domestic fire since World War Two.
The disaster, which occurred in one of London’s richest boroughs, raised profound questions over social inequalities, poor quality public housing and neglect of immigrant communities.
Queen Elizabeth and her new granddaughter-in-law Meghan, out together on an official visit to Chester in northwest England, were among those who observed a national silence in honour of the victims at mid-day. (1100 GMT).