Leaders of the campaign advocating a vote in favour of a Brexit in this month’s referendum on EU membership have unveiled plans to introduce an Australian-style, points-based system for anyone wishing to emigrate to the UK for work or study.
Under the Vote Leave campaign’s plan, which they say would be introduced by 2020, visas for EU as well as non-EU citizens would be determined by an individual’s skills and qualifications – plus his or her command of English –”without discrimination on the ground of nationality”.
Although Prime Minister David Cameron, who wants the UK to remain in the EU, told the BBC that such a system would “trash our economy”, a statement from the leaders of Vote Leave camp – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Priti Patel, and Gisela Stuart – pledged that “by the next general election, we will create a genuine Australian-style points-based immigration system”.
“EU citizens will be subject to legislation made by those we elect in Westminster, not in Brussels. We could then create fairness between EU citizens and others, including those from Commonwealth countries.
“To gain the right to work, economic migrants will have to be suitable for the job in question. For relevant jobs, we will be able to ensure that all those who come have the ability to speak good English. Such a system can be much less bureaucratic and much simpler than the existing system for non-EU citizens”.
With widespread public concern over the record levels of net migration to the UK, immigration is considered the strongest card in the Vote Leave suit, while the ‘remain’ campaign has concentrated on the economic risks of a Brexit.