No10 to shut door on EU migrants two years early
THE Prime Minister is preparing to impose new restrictions on low-skilled migrants moving to Britain on the first day after the Brexit transition period ends in December, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.
Under radical plans being drawn up by Boris Johnson’s aides, the Government would effectively bring forward its post-Brexit immigration shake-up by two years, removing a temporary extension of the current rules until 2023 that had been demanded by business groups and promised by Theresa May.
The proposals are expected to be presented to the Cabinet this week by
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, as part of a paper on the UK’s future immigration system. Last night a No10 source confirmed: “We need to deliver change and businesses need to be prepared for uncontrolled migration of low-skilled workers to end this year.”
The move will put Mr Johnson and Ms Patel on a collision course with business groups such as the Confederation of British Industry, which has insisted that firms will need “at least two years to adapt to any new immigration system”.
The disclosure comes after Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, issued a separate warning to businesses to drop their demands for the UK to stay closely tied to the EU after Brexit, saying that firms
had had three years to prepare for
Mr Johnson is planning to introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system.
During the election campaign he revealed that the scheme would include preventing lower-skilled workers moving to the UK unless there is a “specific shortage” of staff in their sector, such as construction. Those who arrive will only be able to stay temporarily.
Mrs May’s immigration White Paper, published in 2018 while Mr Javid was the home secretary, acknowledged the “challenges faced by … employers … who would find it difficult immediately to adapt” to new immigration rules.
It proposed a “time-limited route for temporary short-term workers”, amounting to two years in total.
However, Mr Johnson’s aides are understood to have concluded that the public will expect to see significant changes to the country’s border policy once the Brexit transition period ends in December.
A key pledge of the official Leave campaign was to “take back control”.
Mr Johnson will make a final decision following a review being carried out by the Migration Advisory Committee on how a points-based system would work. One option that is understood to have found favour with No10 is replacing the current entry rights for low-skilled workers with quotas for specific sectors.
Last year The Sunday Telegraph disclosed that the Prime Minister had signed off plans to allow fruit and vegetable farmers to hire up to 10,000 workers from outside the EU for temporary roles in 2020 – an increase from a temporary quota of 2,500 in 2019.
If put into effect, the plans would be likely to set Mr Johnson firmly apart from the next Labour leader on the issue of immigration.
Lisa Nandy, the most sympathetic of the candidates towards Brexit supporters, last week issued a defence of the EU’s free movement rules, stating: “We should have been bold enough to defend free movement, and the opportunities and benefits it brings.”
Last night, it emerged that Boris Johnson is planning to move the House of Lords to the north of England permanently.
York has emerged as the frontrunner to host the new second chamber, with disused, government-owned land close to the railway station already identified as a potential site, The Sunday Times reported.
Birmingham is also said to be in the running as a possible future home for more than 800 peers.
‘We have an unprecedented opportunity to change the way our immigration system works’