Home Secretary Sajid Javid today gave further details of Britain’s planned post-Brexit immigration system in a speech to the Conservative Party conference.
The Prime Minister had earlier told the BBC this morning that EU free movement would end “once and for all”.
According to Sky News, Theresa May said there will be a new single immigration system that treats EU nationals the same as non-EU nationals.
The Prime Minister was quoted as saying: “When we leave we will bring in a new immigration system that ends freedom of movement once and for all. For the first time in decades, it will be this country that controls and chooses who we want to come here.
“It will be a skills-based system where it is workers’ skills that matter, not where they come from. It will be a system that looks across the globe and attracts the people with the skills we need.”
Sajid Javid in his speech said he was the “first Home Secretary in a generation that is actually able to define an immigration system, without being constrained by the EU.”
He continued: “Thanks to the referendum we now have a unique opportunity to reshape our immigration system for the future. A skills-based, single system that is opened up to talent from across the world. A system that doesn’t discriminate between any one region or country. A system based on merit.
“That judges people not by where they are from, but on what they can do. What people want – and they will get – is control of our own system. With a lower, and sustainable level of net migration. And above all, that has to mean one thing: an end to freedom of movement.”
The Home Secretary also announced that he plans to change the existing Life in the UK test taken by those applying British citizenship or settlement. Javid said he wants to move it away from trivia question on British history and towards “a British values test.”
“Citizenship should mean more than being able to win a pub quiz. We need to make it a British values test – and that’s exactly what I will bring in. It’s about signing up to those values that we share and live by together,” The Home Secretary said.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said it was concerned by the Government’s immigration plans.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Freedom of movement is ending and firms understand that. But the Prime Minister’s proposals for a new system have taken a wrong turn. By dismissing the importance of low skilled workers to the UK economy, the government risks harming businesses and living standards now and in the future.
“All skill levels matter to the UK economy. Today’s proposals risk worsening labour shortages, already serious in construction, hospitality and care. Restricting access to the workers the UK needs is self-defeating.”
The Guardian, meanwhile, noted that the Government’s plan had not gone down well with some EU figures.
According to the Guardian, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signalled that he expects a row at an upcoming “moment of truth” summit later this month. Vice-President Frans Timmermans said carving out parts of the four liberties would not bring a solution.
Manfred Weber of the European People’s Party (EPP) group said Britain’s plan to end free movement illustrated the need to stay united against attempts to pick off the benefits of EU membership.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, was quoted by The Independent saying: “we will never accept discrimination based on skills and nationality, as Mr Javid this morning proposed”.