Immigration proposals branded an ‘elitist attack’ and ‘unworkable’ - Jackson

Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson said the proposals are unworkable. (Steven Parsons/ PA Wire)Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson said the proposals are unworkable. (Steven Parsons/ PA Wire)
Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson said the proposals are unworkable. (Steven Parsons/ PA Wire)
Derry Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson has slammed British Government Immigration proposals as “unpopular, unworkable and a direct threat to the north’s economic viability”.

The Waterside Councillor was responding to Home Office proposals announced this morning which would overhaul immigration policy in the north of Ireland from 2021.

He said: “Far from strengthening the economic wellbeing of our society, these proposals are a direct threat to local industry - including our local hospitality, tourism, retail, and agri-food sectors.”

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Colr. Jackson said it was hard not to view these proposals as an elitist attack on overseas and low-paid workers, “the vast majority of whom we simply can not live without”.

“Indeed most worryingly, these proposals are a cruel attack on our care sector – the wonderful, selfless heroes who we all rely on to take care of us and our families in our hour of need.

“It is abundantly clear that the Home Office have completely ignored our unique and special circumstances and have again shown nothing but contempt for local business and industry leaders who have engaged constructively with British Government officials in recent years.

“Sinn Féin will be raising these concerns directly with the British Government in the weeks to come.”

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The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday launched a new points-based immigration system which she claimed “will open up the UK to the brightest and the best from around the world”.

The new system, which takes effect from 1 January 2021, will “end free movement, reassert control of our borders and restore public trust” the Home Office claimed.

The government plans to assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and visas will only be awarded to those who gain enough points.

The government said it has listened to the “clear message from the 2016 referendum and the 2019 General Election and will end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour coming into the country”.

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The new single global system will treat EU and non-EU citizens the same and will give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, engineers and academics.

Priti Patel said: “Today is a historic moment for the whole country. We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down.

“We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.”

The points threshold is being set to attract the talent the UK needs, the government said. Skilled workers will need to meet a number of relevant criteria, including specific skills and the ability to speak English, to be able to work in the UK. All applicants will be required to have a job offer and, in line with the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendations, the minimum salary threshold will be set at £25,600.

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The new points-based system will also expand the skills threshold for skilled workers. Those looking to live and work in the UK will now need to be qualified up to A level or equivalent, rather than degree level under the current system. This will provide greater flexibility and ensure UK business has access to a wide pool of skilled workers.

In line with the government’s manifesto commitment there will be no specific route for low-skilled workers. It is estimated 70% of the existing EU workforce would not meet the requirements of the skilled worker route, which will help to bring overall numbers down in future.

EU citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to six months. However, the use of national identity cards will be phased out for travel to the UK and the Home Office will set out plans in due course.

EU citizens resident in the UK by December 31 2020 can apply to settle in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme until June 2021.