British Cabinet ministers have endorsed proposals introduced by UK home secretary Sajid Javid to change UK immigration policies to one offering preferential treatment to high-skilled workers, with some ministers objected the motion.
Plans would go into effect after the UK’s “implementation period” within the EU finishes in December 2020, Politics Home reports.
Chancellor of the Exchequers Phillip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark reportedly voiced concerns that the amendments would disrupt businesses if introduced abruptly.
“Philip Hammond did not argue to continue free movement, nor did he argue against curbs to low-skilled migration,” a Whitehall source said as quoted by the Times. “What Greg Clark pushed for yesterday — and Philip Hammond agreed with him — was to avoid a cliff-edge policy which involves a sudden big change for business. They lost that argument.”
“Hammond’s response sparked a row with Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey, who stated, “On the one hand, we’re told that when we leave the EU we will go into a recession, [but] on the other, we’re going to need mass migration.”
“They can’t both be correct,” she chided.
Home Secretary Javid’s proposals will give leniency to some low-skilled migrant workers for industries heavily reliant on them. It will also grant preferential access to UK labor markets to regions that negotiate free trade deals with the UK, including parts of the EU.
A spokesperson from the Oxford University Migrant Observatory told Sputnik that the British government wants to shift economic demographics in favor of tax revenues.
“Hiring high-skilled workers will produce more money for the state, for obvious reasons,” he stated, adding that government policy defines ‘high-skilled’ workers as university graduates and beyond earning £30,000 or more.
The developments come as UK prime minister Theresa May was lambasted by European leaders in Salzberg for her Chequers plan, which argued for a Canadian-style free trade agreement.
Following the 2018 Labour party conference in Liverpool, fresh calls for a second EU referendum have also complicated matters for May’s Brexit strategy, in addition to possible snap elections in November.
“It’s about stopping a destructive Tory Brexit,” Keir Starmer, Labour shadow Brexit secretary, said in a speech on Tuesday. “It’s about fighting for our values and about fighting for our country.”
Migration Watch UK chairman Lord Green of Deddington slammed the UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee report, which advised the Home Office on its migration policy, calling it technical but “blind to the impact of high levels of EU immigration on many communities.”
He also noted that immigration numbers added roughly one million people to Britain’s population every three years. “The overall outcome would be to weaken immigration control rather than strengthen it,” he said in a press statement.