The Mail on Sunday

Tory crackdown on post-Brexit migrants

All will be made to pay NHS £625 No benefits for f ive years Anyone with crime record will be rejected


A NEW Tory government would introduce a battery of measures to toughen up the immigratio­n system, including a crackdown on health tourism and the payment of child benefit to foreign children living abroad.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove today promises to ‘make migration work for all’ with a shake-up of border controls when freedom of movement comes to an end after Brexit.

If his party wins a fresh mandate on December 12, a key priority would be to end the drain on the NHS from overseas visitors, who cost taxpayers an average of £625 every time they use the Health Service.

If they come from outside the EU, they are obliged to pay a £400 surcharge. However, they receive free treatment if they come from within the EU.

But after Brexit, all foreign patients – including those from the EU – will have to pay a £625 fee, which is expected to raise an extra £500 million a year for the NHS.

Under the plans, health tourism ‘hit squads’ who chase the frequently missing payments from overseas patients would also be beefed up. Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Mr Gove says: ‘Making access to the NHS fairer is part of making migration fairer overall. Our country is made stronger by welcoming people with talent from across the globe. But it’s not right that people from Bulgaria and Slovenia can come here without any controls and have automatic rights that people from Bangladesh and Singapore do not.’

Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, adds: ‘ As a tolerant and inclusive country, Britain welcomes the benefits migration can bring. But migration has to be managed if it is to work in everyone’s interests.

‘Since the Brexit vote, popular support for migration, and warmth towards new arrivals, has increased. Because the British people know that, outside the EU, we can control our borders and bring immigratio­n down.’

The moves will end the current twin-track system under which EU migrants can access welfare and services after being in the UK for only three months, while non-EU migrants have to wait for five years to secure indefinite leave to remain. With the expected end of freedom of movement in January 2021 – and the introducti­on of an Australian-style points-based immigratio­n system – EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally.

This will include the planned end to the practice of child benefit being sent abroad to support children who don’t live in the UK, which has been a source of public anger for a number of years.

Under t he new system, new migrants from inside or outside the EU will need to be in possession of a job offer before they are allowed to move to the UK to work, with only narrow exemptions including for highly skilled scientists and those who want to come to the UK to start a business.

The immigratio­n changes are expected to contribute to savings on the welfare bill of £800 million a year by 2024.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is also pledging to make an immediate cash injection of £ 20 million to strengthen our borders and reduce illegal immigratio­n, including new equipment to better detect illicit goods such as firearms.

Ms Patel will automatica­lly reject migrants with criminal conviction­s – something she is currently barred from doing under EU rules.

Ms Patel said: ‘Too often in the past, our generous welfare system has been a magnet for low-skilled migration from inside the EU, while treating non-EU migrants differentl­y. That will end under a majori ty Conservati­ve Government, which will get Brexit done, control and reduce immigratio­n and make our welfare system fairer.

‘Labour would subject us to the chaos of two more referendum­s and won’t tackle this injustice.

‘ They want uncontroll­ed and unlimited immigratio­n forever, putting the NHS under strain and costing millions in welfare payments. Taxpayers would have to pick up the bill, on top of the £2,400 extra they would pay every year under Labour.’

‘Migration has to be managed to work in everyone’s interests’

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