Boris talks tough on migrants: Johnson pledges Australian-style points system which could ban over-50s moving to Britain – but faces backlash after ‘tearing up’ target to slash immigration to tens of thousands
- Mr Johnson to ask migration experts to examine merits of points-based system
- Former foreign secretary wants to use the Australian system as a template
- But leadership frontrunner’s plan does not currently include immigration target
- Critics claim Mr Johnson’s immigration system policy ‘ducks all the key issues’
- It came as Mr Johnson laid down the law to would-be ministers over No Deal
- He said those who serve under him must be ‘reconciled’ to EU split on Oct 31
- Theresa May facing ‘legacy hunting’ jibe over showdown with Vladimir Putin
Boris Johnson is facing a backlash over his pledge to introduce an Australian-style immigration system as he paved the way for dropping a Tory promise to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’.
The frontrunner for the keys to 10 Downing Street said he wanted to ‘restore democratic control’ over who is allowed to come to the UK and that he wanted Britain to be ‘much more open to high skilled immigration’.
However, his plan to introduce a points-based system does not currently include an immigration target with the issue due to be looked at by an independent committee of migration experts.
The failure to include a target or a pledge to reduce net migration in the plan is likely to put Mr Johnson a collision course with some Leave voters who believe net migration is too high while critics said the proposed policy ‘ducks all the key issues’.
Mr Johnson’s proposals would see the UK’s system refocused on highly skilled workers – and could make it much more difficult for people over the age of 50 to move to Britain.
It came as Mr Johnson insisted that anyone who serves in his Cabinet must vow to deliver Brexit by the current Halloween deadline – with or without a deal.
The former foreign secretary has made clear every minister who serves in a government led by him must be ‘reconciled’ to leaving without an agreement if necessary.
Announcing his immigration plan, Mr Johnson said: ‘We will restore democratic control of immigration policy after we leave the EU.
‘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.’
Boris Johnson, pictured today as he arrived in Westminster, is facing a backlash after he failed to include a net migration target in his new immigration plan
Boris Johnson last night pledged to introduce an Australian-style immigration system, despite warnings it will do nothing to cut the number of migrants coming to the UK
Prospective migrants would have to have a firm job offer before travelling and demonstrate ‘an ability to speak English’
The Australian immigration system has been designed to allow people into the country who the government believes will contribute to the economy and fill skills shortages.
Skilled worker visas are available to people if they score enough points across a number of categories in a points-based assessment with 60 the magic number.
One of the key categories is age, with all applicants having to be under 50.
Younger applicants are automatically awarded 30 points while those approaching the age of 50 get zero, making it much harder for them to be accepted.
Another key category is the ability to read and write English to a satisfactory level. Points are awarded to people who are particularly ‘proficient’ while even more are awarded to those deemed ‘superior’.
Then there are qualifications and skilled employment history. This is where people must get most of their points from.
For example, five years of skilled work outside Australia is worth 10 points and a PHD qualification receives 20 points.
Immigration was arguably the main issue of the 2016 EU referendum and Mr Johnson had advocated introducing an Australian-style system in the run up to June 23 as he led the Leave campaign.
The Conservative Party has been committed to reducing net migration to below six figures since 2010 when David Cameron made the promise.
But successive governments have failed to get anywhere close to meeting the target with more than 250,000 people joining the UK population from abroad in the year ending December 2018.
Many senior Tories are in favour of ditching the ‘tens of thousands’ pledge because they view it as being undeliverable.
Mr Johnson intends to amend an existing piece of draft legislation relating to immigration to get his proposals up and running if he succeeds Theresa May.
But his system would not be rolled out until 2021.
If he becomes prime minister, Mr Johnson will ask the Migration Advisory Committee, which advises the government on immigration matters, to undertake a 12 month investigation looking at which elements of the Australian points-based system could be used in the UK.
The new system is not expected to use every element of the Australian system.
The MAC will be tasked with coming up with detailed proposals but the committee will be told to base its assessment on three key issues: Contribution, fairness and control.
Mr Johnson’s system would likely require would-be immigrants to already have a job offer before coming to the UK, require them to apply to come ahead of time and require them to be able to speak English.
Boris lays down the law to ministers on No Deal
Boris Johnson today insisted anyone who serves in his Cabinet must vow to force Brexit through by Halloween – as Remainers plotted a new bid to block No Deal.
The Tory front runner has said cutting ties with the EU by October 31 will be ‘do or die’, and made clear every minister must be ‘reconciled’ to leaving without an agreement if necessary.
The stark warning came amid confusion over whether Mr Johnson would be willing to suspend Parliament in order to stop MPs blocking No Deal. Mr Johnson dodged when asked whether he would use the explosive tactic last night, but his close ally Liz Truss then insisted he had ruled it out.
The huge obstacles Mr Johnson faces have also been underlined by the emergence of another attempt by Remainers to take control of the process.
Access to benefits would only be granted after a certain amount of time.
The new system would also ensure ‘proper checks’ are carried out on everyone who wants to come to the UK to live and work.
In Australia, prospective migrants are scored on a points system to determine their value to the economy.
Key factors include qualifications, skills and age. Applicants have to be aged under 50 to apply.
EU migrants would not receive special treatment under the system set out by Mr Johnson and would be treated the same as applicants from the rest of the world.
The Migration Watch think-tank warned there was little evidence the Australian-style scheme would address public concern over immigration levels.
It said: ‘This statement just ducks all the key issues. There is no mention whatsoever of reducing net migration, let alone how it might be achieved.
‘The UK has had a points-based system for almost ten years and it hasn’t worked.
Theresa May faces ‘legacy hunting’ jibe over planned Putin meeting
Theresa May arrived in Japan for her final major summit as PM today – amid accusations she is ‘legacy hunting’ by agreeing to a showdown with Vladimir Putin.
The Prime Minister and husband Philip touched down in Osaka, where world leaders are gathering for the G20 summit of powerful nations.
Tomorrow Mrs May will have her first face-to-face talks with the Russian president since the Novichok attack in Salisbury in March last year.
She is expected to warn Mr Putin that Russia will remain out in the cold unless he abandons his ‘malign’ policies.
But Tory MP have complained that she should be leaving the diplomacy to her successor – with either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt set to take over in Downing Street next month.
Relations between the two countries were put in the deep freeze following the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
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