We should have an immigration system that’s realistic rather than headline-grabbing
The Tory manifesto promises a ‘fair, firm and compassionate’ approach. The party has more work to do on the last point
It is no surprise that, as the general election campaign enters the home straight, the Conservatives are playing the immigration card. It echoes Vote Leave’s drive in the last week of the 2016 referendum campaign, when it made misleading claims – such as warning that Turkey would join the EU, which turned out to be a turkey itself. Several of Vote Leave’s key players work for Boris Johnson, who now wants to implement the Australian-style points-based system it promised in 2016.
It is meant to sound tough, when coupled with the ritual pledge to “take back control” of immigration after Brexit. The Tories hope it will appeal to working-class voters in the north and midlands, who may well decide Thursday’s election.
On closer inspection, the “new” approach is more of a slogan than a detailed policy, and rather similar to the existing tier-based one. Three groups could apply to enter Britain: migrants with “exceptional talent”; skilled workers who would require a job offer as well a specified number of points; and those in lower-skilled sectors, who could enter only if there were labour shortages in that industry. Visas in this last category would be time-limited, probably up to five years, and “will typically not lead to settlement”.