Guardian News and Media/ London
Boris Johnson’s overhauled cabinet has agreed that a new points-based immigration system will be implemented from 1 January next year, believing that it will reduce the number of people coming to the UK, Downing Street has announced.
At the start of yesterday morning’s cabinet meeting, which was recorded for television, Johnson led his new slimmed-down team, which he called the “people’s government”, in a call-and-response enumeration of his election pledges. A spokesperson said that after the cameras left the cabinet agreed that a tougher immigration system would be introduced at the start of next year.
Details of the scheme will not be announced until next week, but Downing Street confirmed that it would close down routes for low-skilled workers to come to the UK, with the effect of reducing overall immigration. “Following discussion, cabinet agreed the implementation of a points-based immigration from January 1, 2021. The system will be simpler and fairer, and will not discriminate between countries – and will return democratic control of immigration to the British people,” a spokesperson said.
“The prime minister stressed that we must demonstrate that the UK is open and welcoming to talent from across the world; but the new system would end reliance on importing cheap, low-skilled labour – bringing down migration numbers overall.”
Successive Conservative governments had promised to reduce migration, but lacked the ability to control the number of EU arrivals. Concerns about the impact on economic growth and public services limited the extent to which ministers were prepared to crack down on non-EU arrivals.
Asked exactly how the new system would cut immigration, the spokesman said: “We will introduce a points-based system which by its very nature will give the government control over who can come in. You have the levers within the system”.
Asked if the government would be willing to accept slower economic growth as the price of bringing migration down, he said: “The prime minister has been clear: the public elected this government on the basis of taking back control of our borders. That is what this policy will do.”
No 10 is keen to demonstrate that it is pressing ahead with the agenda set out in the Conservatives’ manifesto, despite the abrupt resignation of Sajid Javid as chancellor on Thursday.
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