Johnson ‘lying to voters on migration’
A trustworthiness test for each individual candidate would help to restore faith in our political systems
Boris Johnson has been accused of “lying to the public” over his promises to reduce immigration.
Mr Johnson said he could “guarantee” numbers coming down through restrictions on low-skilled workers moving to Britain.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Mr Johnson was “misleading” voters about the effectiveness of the system.
Boris Johnson has been accused of “lying to the public” over his promises to reduce immigration after detailing his plans for a points-based system.
The Prime Minister unveiled restrictions on low-skilled workers moving to Britain in a post-brexit shake-up.
The proposal is at the heart of the Tories’ plans for an Australian-style points-based system. It will block workers moving to the UK unless there is a shortage in a specific sector, such as construction.
A Migration Advisory Committee would be given powers to set the number of visas needed in key sectors, enjoying the same independence as the Bank of England when it sets interest rates.
The Prime Minister, in an interview with Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, said he could guarantee “numbers will come down” as part of the “controlled” measures.
But shadow health secretary
Jonathan Ashworth said Mr Johnson was “misleading” voters about the effectiveness of the proposed new system.
He also argued the Tories would have “no democratic control” over the immigration numbers due to plans to setup an independent committee to oversee the points-system implementation.
“He said the committee will be independent in the same way as the Bank of England is independent, so he is misleading people when he says he is bringing immigration down because there will be no democratic control,” Mr Ashworth said.
“There will be no accountability over any decision that any immigration minister makes because it will be handed over to a statutory independent committee – so again Boris Johnson is lying to the British people.”
Mr Ashworth said the UK must maintain free movement for the NHS and the social care sector as they “could not survive if we did not continue to recruit internationally”.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, also appearing on the Sophy Ridge programme, accused the PM of having “always been very soft” on immigration.
The Conservatives’ proposed Australian-style system would put no limits on highly educated and award-winning workers, investors or entrepreneurs coming to Britain after Brexit.
It would also fast-track and offer reduced fees to doctors, nurses or social care workers who want to come to work in the NHS.
The change could be disproportionately damaging for Scotland, which is more reliant than the rest of the UK on immigration to keep the population growing and support the economy.
Immigration was a key factor of the 2016 Brexit vote and the official Leave campaign led by Mr Johnson pledged to
“take back control” of Britain’s borders.
The Tories launched a £100,000-a-day social media blitz over the weekend to hammer home its core political messages and plans for tough post-brexit immigration policies.
In a letter to the nation the Prime Minister said Labour’s immigration policy would “put even more pressure on the NHS and our other public services”.
Mr Johnson stated: “He does not just want to keep free movement with the EU – where even murderers have free movement rights – but he wants to extend it to the whole world so anyone from anywhere can come here any time they like. And there would be nothing you could do about it.”
Is this, as some have suggested, the most dishonest election campaign in British political history?
That is a pretty big claim for a kingdom which has seen at least its fair share of smear and scandal over the centuries.
Few though would argue that 2019 has not marked a new nadir in modern times with trust between public and politicians at a desperate low point.
Earlier this year, a study by the respected Hansard Society found trust in our political systems had fallen below levels seen in the aftermath of the MPS’ expenses scandal of 2009 and at their lowest point since it started its regular studies 15 years ago. Since then, things can only have grown worse.
The dramatic rise of ‘fact check’ teams, working to test the truth of politicians’ claims on the campaign trail, is just one sign of how badly trust has been eroded.
Several leading figures have been caught telling whoppers in recent weeks. Some have been the mundane – do we really believe that republican Jeremy Corbyn sits down to watch the Queen’s Speech at Christmas? – and others more obviously serious and far-reaching – Boris Johnson and some of his fellow Ministers cannot all be telling the truth about the need for Irish Border checks in a post-brexit world.
Politicians have always had what can be euphemistically described as a loose relationship with the truth, to a greater or lesser degree. Voters understand and accept that, to a point, evasion and a selective presentation of the facts are part of the political process.
But the carelessness with which promises and claims of fact are being made – neither the Johnson or Corbyn tax and spending plans stand up to much scrutiny – only feed the growing cynicism with which our politics is regarded by the majority of the general public.
It is often said, particularly of the United States of America, that the public get the politicians they deserve.
There is some truth in that. There are many considerations to weigh when casting your vote on Thursday.
One important one, we would humbly suggest, is assessing the track record and general trustwor-thyness of any candidate before lending them your support.
It is the surest way to bring some more honesty back into our politics.
“The Conductors pledge themselves for impartiality, firmness and independence... Their first desire is to be honest, the second is to be useful... The great requisites for the task are only good sense, courage and industry”
FROM THE PROSPECTUS OF THE SCOTSMAN, 30 NOVEMBER 1816
Boris Johnson taking time off from campaigning yesterday to visit the Conservative Party campaign headquarters in London and take calls from the public