Theresa May unveils plan to slash low-skilled migration and end free movement after Brexit

Posted On: 
2nd October 2018

Free movement from the EU will end and low-skilled migration will be slashed after Britain leaves the EU, Theresa May has declared.

Theresa May will say immigration will be brought down after Brexit.
Credit: 
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Unveiling the biggest shake-up to Britain's immigration system in decades, the Prime Minister said it will give priority to high-skilled workers who want to live and work in the UK.

And in a dramatic change to the present set-up, immigrants coming to Britain from the EU will be treated exactly the same as those from the rest of the world.

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid will outline more details of the plan, which reflects recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee, when he addresses the Tory party conference in Birmingham later.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Mrs May said the new system would end “freedom of movement once and for all”.

“For the first time in decades, it will be this country that controls and chooses who we want to come here,” she said. "It will be a skills based system where it is workers’ skills that matter, not where they come from.

"It will be a system that looks across the globe and attracts the people with the skills we need. Crucially it will be fair to ordinary working people.

"For too long, people have felt they have been ignored on immigration and that politicians have not taken their concerns seriously enough.

"The new skills-based system will make sure low skilled immigration is brought down and set the UK on the path to reduce immigration to sustainable levels, as we promised.

"At the same time we are training up British people for the skilled jobs of the future."

A White Paper on how the system will work is expected later in the autumn, while ministers will bring forward new immigration legislation next year.

Under the plans, those wanting to live and work in the UK in the long-term would need to meet a minimum earnings threshold so that they are not taking roles that British workers could fill.

Skilled workers who are able to move will be able to bring their family, but only if they are sponsored by their future employer.

The Government has also committed to bringing in a “swift system” of e-gate visa checks for tourists and visitors visiting the UK for short stay business trips from all low risk countries.

It says the system would carry out all security and criminal records checks ahead of visitors’ arrival.

Labour swiftly dismissed the new immgiration plans, saying they would be "meaningless" if the Government continued with its "unworkable and arbitrary migration cap that has never once been met".

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott added: "The cap serves only one purpose and that is to demonise and vilify people who choose to come and live and work in our country, and Labour will scrap it."