Author: Joe Watts
Theresa May has signed off plans for a post-Brexit immigration system that accepts the need for low-skilled workers to come into the UK after it leaves the EU.
Under plans set out at cabinet by home secretary Sajid Javid the new system would create a specific route for low-skilled workers to come into the country and work in sectors like agriculture, social care and hospitality.
The presentation given by Mr Javid also appeared to confirm that he had won a reported tussle with chancellor Philip Hammond, over the home secretary’s intention not to give EU citizens preferential treatment in a future system.
The cabinet also fell into line behind Ms May’s Brexit Chequers proposals after the drama of last week’s Salzburg summit and reports that some ministers may demand a change in approach.
The show of unity was a victory for Ms May, as ex-Brexit secretary David Davisset out rival proposals alongside Jacob Rees-Mogg earlier in the day.
The new immigration plans came after the independent Migration Advisory Committee (Mac) set out recommendations for a future immigration policy last week, saying that there should be no specific route for low-skilled workers.
But a home office source told The Independent: “We recognise that there is place for a route for low-skilled workers to come in for certain sectors, like seasonal agricultural workers, in social care and in hospitality.
“The critical point is that numbers will be controlled and freedom of movement is ending.
“Exactly how the system is designed will now be looked at, but there will be a route for some low-skilled workers where the need cannot be solved domestically.”
The source also confirmed that the government is likely take on the key recommendations of the Mac relating to high-skilled workers, which could mean a cap on “tier 2” visas for those employees being lifted and the regime being extended to more types of profession.
While EU citizens would not be given preferential treatment, it may be the case that as part of a future trade deal with Brussels, some European citizens are given special access.
Confirmation that there will be provision for low-skilled workers is a boost for businesses who had reacted angrily to the Mac proposals, claiming they could represent a disaster for key sectors in the British economy that rely on low-skilled labour from abroad.
Claims that Ms May faced a cabinet rebellion over her Chequers proposals were for the time being put to bed and as it emerged that not a single minister had spoken out against them in cabinet.
The boost will buoy Ms May who was forced to make a statement last week after EU leaders shot down her plans following a fraught European Council summit in Salzburg.