Leading Brexit campaigners have drafted plans for an Australian-style, points-based immigration system, should the UK public vote to leave the European Union (EU). A referendum will be held in Britain on 23 June to enable voters to decide whether to remain in the EU or 'Brexit'- the name given if Britain leaves the EU.
However, it's worth pointing out that the UK immigration system currently operates a points-based system which includes various tiers including the Tier 2 visa and Tier 1 visa tier. It's unclear exactly how the 'new' points-based system will differ from the current one. What we can tell you is that the right to enter the UK will be based on 'skills,' according to a report published by the Huffington Post.
A joint statement from Brexit supporters, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Priti Patel, and Gisela Stuart outlined plans for a UK immigration system that would 'mark the end of the automatic right of EU citizens to come and live and work in the UK.
The statement said: "By the next general election, we will create a genuine Australian-style points-based immigration system. The automatic right of all EU citizens to come to live and work in the UK will end, as will EU control over vital aspects of our social security 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."
There have been record increases in UK immigration because the UK economy is doing well and is actually doing much better than much of the EU. High levels of immigration to the UK is a sign of success. People want to come to the UK because there are more jobs in the UK. The Telegraph has recently commented that David Cameron has "unleashed this job-creating beast of an economy".
Immigration has been a major issue in the European Union Referendum campaign. if Britain chooses to leave the EU there may be lower levels of immigration, but the economy is likely to suffer. Perhaps that is a price that people will be prepared to pay. We will see on 23 June 2016.
The 'new' UK Immigration points-based system
Under the 'new' UK immigration system, applicants seeking to live and work in the UK would be assessed based on their skills and qualifications 'without discrimination on the grounds of nationality.'
The statement said: "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."
UK immigration has been a key focus of the 'Leave' and 'Remain' referendum campaigns, and with less than two weeks to go until voters take to the polls, the Leave campaign has finally unveiled its blueprint for controlling UK borders in the aftermath of an EU exit.
77,000 EU migrants entered Britain in 2015
According to the Brexit campaign statement, around 77,000 EU migrants arrived in the UK in 2015. The statement also claimed voting to Remain in the EU and continuing to allow free movement in the UK would cause problems for the UK. The "Leave" campaign says that staying in the EU would affect school class sizes, wages, public services, the NHS and the security of the UK.
Brexit campaigners mentioned the 'ongoing tragedies in the Mediterranean' as a demonstration of how badly the EU is struggling to cope with mass migration and freedom of movement.
The statement said: "Should the UK remain in the European Union, migration and the Mediterranean death toll is only going to worsen as immigrants attempt to reach Britain."
Additionally, Johnson, Gove, Patel and Stuart were quick to make reference to the Conservative Party's election pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, a commitment the government has fallen well short of. Johnson, Gove, Patel and Stuart said that the failure to meet this pledge is evidence alone highlighting the need for change.
"This promise is plainly not achievable as long as the UK is a member of the EU and the failure to keep it is corrosive of public trust in politics," said Johnson, Gove, Patel and Stuart.
Safer, more humane UK immigration policy according to Brexit Campaign
The four are of the opinion that should the UK back exiting the EU, 'a new, safer and more humane immigration policy should be implemented as swiftly as possible.' The four believe that such plans would be 'widely accepted by British society.'
The new immigration policy wouldn't affect Irish nationals or EU citizens who are already lawfully resident in the UK. Those EU citizens legally in the UK will be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK automatically under the new system.
However, legal changes would be put in place to make it easier to deport criminals and other persons 'whose presence in the UK is not in the best interests of the UK public,' according to the statement.
The Brexit immigration policy would mean that the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights to UK law would no longer apply to UK Law. Johnson, Gove, Patel and Stuart said: "A combination of these measures would allow, 'for the first time in a generation', politicians to 'keep their promises on migration'."
"We will welcome new citizens who wish to contribute to our society, as so many immigrants have done and we will be able to remove those who abuse our hospitality," they said.
Remain campaign criticises Leave campaign's announcement on immigration
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Remain contingent criticised the Brexit immigration policy. The executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe, Will Straw, said: "The proposed points-based system could lead to higher levels of immigration. This system will not work. Vote Leave's proposal could put up immigration and it would wreck our economy, as it involves leaving Europe's Single Market."
"Australia, who have a points based immigration system, have twice as many migrants per head as the UK. Economic experts are agreed that leaving the Single Market would lead to recession - costing jobs and raising prices," Straw added.
Comments from Anti-Immigrant Migration Watch UK
Even the anti-immigrant, group, Migration Watch UK – which campaigns for stricter limits on immigration to the UK - said in a 2014 press release that an Australian-style points system would be 'totally unsuitable' for Britain.
In response to Vote Leave's proposed immigration policy, Migration Watch UK stated that a 'work permit for all migrants would be simpler and less bureaucratic, resulting in a reduction in migration numbers.'
Chairman of Migration Watch, Lord Green, said: "Work permits for all, EU and non-EU, is the way forward. This would preserve access to the skills our economy needs while reducing the population pressures which are simply getting out of hand."
Australian immigration system
Australia has become notorious for its tough stance on immigration and has been criticised for locking up refugees for long periods of time. According to the Huffington Post, Australia operates a "hybrid" selection system for skilled migrants that includes both a points-based system and employer sponsorship options.
The country is also known to detain migrants in detention centres should they overstay their visa, violate their visa conditions or remain despite having their visa cancelled. They even detain those refused entry at Australia's various ports.
Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom and Australia. Please visit our UK and Australian pages for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/uk.html and http://www.globalvisasupport.com/australia.html