Tory immigration plans would mean fewer 'low-skilled migrants' and 'overall migration down'

18 November 2019, 07:14 | Updated: 18 November 2019, 10:04

Boris Johnson has promised to strengthen borders
Boris Johnson has promised to strengthen borders. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A Tory Government would reduce overall migration and tighten rules on who can claim benefits and invest an extra £20 million in border security.

As the General Election battle continues the Conservative Party have laid out their vows for immigration if they win a majority, while Labour remain tight-lipped on their plans.

The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal would see an end to freedom of movement in January 2021, the Tory party say this would mean migrants from all countries will be "treated equally."

A Conservative spokesperson said the party would end the "preferential treatment of EEA migrants" in order to "attract the brightest and the best from around the world."

The plans would also mean the country would rely less on "low-skilled migrants and getting overall migration down."

By bringing in tighter claimant rules and larger contributions the Tories say it would mean £1.3 billion more each year for public services by the end of the Parliament.

The proposals would mean migrants would need a secure job offer to come to the UK, with exceptions for high skilled scientists and those who want to come to the UK to start a business.

Benefits are high on the Tory agenda, with the party saying they would equalise access to benefits between EU nationals and those from the rest of the world, meaning that non-UK benefits claimants will typically need to wait five years before they are able to claim benefits.

Under current rules, EU migrants can access welfare and services after being in the UK for three months.

The Party has also vowed to end child benefit being sent abroad to support children who don't live in the UK.

Conservative estimates suggest these two measures could save around £800m a year by 2024-25, money Boris Johnson plans to invest in the NHS and supporting vulnerable people.

Boris Johnson has vowed to plough extra money into the NHS
Boris Johnson has vowed to plough extra money into the NHS. Picture: PA

Access to the NHS is central to the party's promises with Mr Johnson pledging to increase the international health surcharge of £625 and extending it to all foreign workers.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to go into details of his party's plans for migration, which is sure to be a key election battle ground.

Mr Corbyn told the BBC: "We cannot exist in isolation, therefore there has to be migration into Britain in order to maintain our economy and our services," he said.

When asked his position on on free movement when the UK leaves the EU, Mr Corbyn said: "There will be a great deal of movement."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said if he is returned to power after the election he plans to make the immigration system equal while investing in the NHS.

Mr Johnson said: “As we come out of the EU we have a new opportunity for fairness and to make sure all those who come here are treated the same. We will make our immigration system equal - whilst at the same time ensuring our fantastic public services, like the NHS, are all properly funded.

“A majority Conservative Government will ensure that people who come to our great country from anywhere in the world have both a job to come to, and make a contribution to our NHS - so that we can protect and improve the public services we all benefit from.”

The Lib Dems have hit out at Mr Johnson's claims
The Lib Dems have hit out at Mr Johnson's claims. Picture: PA

The Liberal Democrats slammed the Tory plans, dubbing the increased surcharge a "nurse tax" suggesting the plans are "heartless."

Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said: “The Tory nurse tax is ballooning due to the immigration health surcharge rise announced today and is an insult to the thousands of people who dedicate their lives coming to work for our health service from the EU.

“The NHS relies on 20,000 EU nurses, 10,000 EU doctors, and we’ve already lost more than 5,000 EU nurses in the last 2 years. Without EU doctors and nurses our NHS would not be able to function and our loved ones would not receive the care they need.

“Equally, Matt Hancock’s comments today are heartless. He should know better than anyone how important international workers are to our NHS.

“For Matt Hancock to say that these doctors and nurses are not making a fair contribution towards our NHS is appalling. And for the Conservatives to charge people even more money to work in our NHS – when we are already struggling with severe staff shortages – is irresponsible and absurd.

“The Liberal Democrats have the solution to the NHS staff crisis: stop Brexit so that we can build a brighter future for our NHS".

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