Unlease growing over UK immigration plans

The government re-introduced its post-Brexit immigration bill in the House of Commons on Monday amid a growing belief among its own MPs that the coronavirus pandemic should make ministers rethink the proposals.

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill represents the first stage of the government's plan to introduce a new points-based immigration system at the end of this year, although the bill itself does not set out the details on this.Instead, the measure in its current form simply ends free movement from the European Union on December 31, with the real battles to come later in the year when secondary legislation sets out details of the points system, salary thresholds, shortage occupations and other measures.But the Covid-19 outbreak has caused new concerns among prominent Tories over what the end of freedom of movement will mean for EU workers deemed to be unskilled and not meeting the £25,600 minimum salary threshold to be imposed on most workers - primarily health service and care staff, but also those employed in tourism, hospitality, construction, transport and farming.

EU-UK immigration: exemptions for social care workers proposed

Caroline Nokes, a former Home Office minister, called for urgent changes, telling The Independent, “If the last six weeks have shown us anything, it is that we are dependent upon workers from all round the globe, but in large numbers the EU, for many essential roles.”Ms Nokes said she supported the introduction of the proposed points-based system, but she added: “The Home Office will also have to build in flexibilities to make sure we don’t run out of carers, child care workers, farm labourers, road hauliers, retail assistants.“These may not be regarded as ‘skilled’ workers in cold immigration terms, but do any of us look at those care workers on the front line of the battle against Covid-19 and think of them as ‘unskilled’?”Stephen Hammond, a former health minister, has called for exemptions for workers in social care, while Steve Double, the MP for St Austell and Newquay, said, “The proposals came out of what we thought back in December and January, but the world has changed. We are now looking at a very different world.”
Read more about the current UK immigration plans:

Current immigration plan "not fair" or in the "national interest"

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Labour Party's 'shadow' home secretary, joined the attack on Monday, saying the immigration plan was "not fair and not in the national interest".He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the government was deeming people who worked in low paid jobs in the health and social care sector "to be unwelcome in this country", adding, "That that isn't an acceptable way to proceed."However, Home Secretary Priti Patel said, "This historic piece of legislation gives the UK full control of our immigration system for the first time in decades and the power to determine who comes to this country."Our new points-based system is firmer, fairer, and simpler. It will attract the people we need to drive our economy forward and lay the foundation for a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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