Boris Johnson pledges new 'Australian style' points-based immigration system if he becomes PM
Boris Johnson has pledged to introduce an "Australian style" points-based immigration system if he becomes Prime Minister.
The Tory frontrunner said the reform would allow greater numbers of high-skilled immigrants to enter the UK while being "tougher" on those who "abuse our hospitality".
But he promised to move immediately to protect EU citizen's rights in the event he wins the Conservative leadership contest, saying he was unhappy with how they had been treated as "bargaining chips" during negotiations with the bloc.
"We will restore democratic control of immigration policy after we leave the EU," he said.
"We must be much more open to high skilled immigration such as scientists but we must also assure the public that, as we leave the EU, we have control over the number of unskilled immigrants coming into the country.
"We must be tougher on those who abuse our hospitality. Other countries such as Australia have great systems and we should learn from them."
Mr Johnson said the independent Migration Advisory Committee would be tasked with building the new scheme, but that strict new requirments, including English proficiency and a time limit on access to benefits would be central to the plans.
The new scheme would also stop new arrivals from "cutting the queue" in accessing public services and would require them to have a "firm" job offer before applying.
Meanwhile, prospective immigrants would face a strict new vetting system before they arrived in a bid to root out criminals and security threats.
He added: "We must also ensure that EU nationals’ rights are protected. This should have happened straight after the referendum. I will sort it out immediately and make sure that this issue is properly dealt with and millions of people can stop worrying."
The campaign pledge comes after his opponent, Jeremy Hunt, said Britain could not "pull down the shutters" after Brexit.
The Foreign Secretary also vowed to tear-up Theresa May's pledge to reduce net migration to below 100,000, saying his key priority was to protect the economy post-Brexit.
"I think there needs to be flexibility for the whole of the UK, because at the point of Brexit we need to show the world that we're not going to change our fundamental national character, we're not going to be a country that changes from Great Britain into Little England and pulls down the shutters and says, foreigners not welcome," he said.
'We must bring down immigration rates but the way to do that in the long run is to increase the skills levels of our own people so that we train more doctors, more nurses, and then we have less need to bring people in from overseas."
In 2016, Mr Johnson was forced to abandon plans for a point-based system, despite it being a key plank of the Vote Leave campaign, following strong oppositon from Theresa May.
Mrs May said the leading Brexiteer's plan was "not a silver bullet" for reducing the numbers of immigrants coming into the country as she suggested Brexit-backing MPs had failed to grasp the "intracies" of such a system.