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“Fairly liberal” Johnson set to ditch immigration targets

With Home Office minister Kit Malthouse describing his new boss as “fairly liberal” in his approach to UK immigration, all the signs suggest Boris Johnson will scrap the pledge first made by David Cameron and repeated by Theresa May to limit immigration to the UK to tens of thousands.

That target has never come close to being met with the new prime minister’s spokesman suggesting Johnson isn’t “interested in a numbers game” when it comes to controlling the flow of migrants to the UK.

The points system approaches

It has long been assumed that Johnson will instead introduce an “Australian-style points system” with criteria reflecting the government’s priorities in areas such as skills and education and target immigrants to fill vacancies in sectors with staff shortages.

The fresh approach has been broadly welcomed by businesses with the Confederation of British Industry suggesting that scrapping the restrictive targets will help firms recruit from abroad.

As Johnson approaches his second week in office, it remains unclear what the criteria for entry to the UK will look like.

Johnson’s immigration balancing act

The new Conservative premier has a balancing act to perform in order to meet the expectations of industry that a less strict regime will enable business leaders to fill skills shortages while pacifying the demands of Leave voters and those within his own party who hope Brexit will reduce immigration numbers.

Meanwhile, there remains confusion over the fate of EU nationals living in Britain with Johnson using his first statement to the House of Commons since becoming PM to repeat the pledge that immigrants from Europe will be able to remain in the UK post-Brexit but appearing to stop short of proposing any new legislation to enable it.

Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May launched the EU Settlement Scheme in March to allow EU nationals and their families to remain in the UK and it appears that the new regime believes the application process will be sufficient without the need for new law-making.


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