EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Government’s immigration policy will be a disaster for all

The history of the UK is built by, with and alongside immigrants. Our country’s rich diversity is something people over the World used to recognise and respect.
Prime Minister Boris JohnsonPrime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

I have always been proud that my home of South Shields has a long tradition of welcoming people from all over the World.

The last 10 years of Tory rule have seen the erosion of these long-held UK values of tolerance and respect. They have actively created a hostile environment that has seen the appalling treatment of the Windrush generation. The Tories have been constant in their reprehensible mantra of blaming migrants for the social and economic decline that their polices have created. They have failed time and time again to call out those spreading racist messages, but this is hardly surprising when the PM himself is someone who has unapologetically engaged in such behaviour.

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The recent announcement of a new points-based immigration system has continued this theme - where the restrictive system shuts out “low skilled” workers from entering the country and all applicants will be required to have a job offer with a minimum salary threshold of £25 600 per annum. These restrictions mean that those who want to come to the UK to work in social care, construction, the NHS, agriculture, retail and hospitality- the very areas that are already suffering staffing shortages- won’t be able to come to the UK to work. But these professions are certainly not “low skilled”, they are low paid.

In terms of social care, currently, one in eleven posts are unfilled. Independent Age has warned that if this system is implemented (on 1 st January 2021), by 2037 the social care workforce gap will reach over one million.

Regarding infrastructure projects (HS2, third runway at Heathrow) and plans to build more than 200 000 new homes per year, construction companies have expressed concern that there are not enough UK workers.

In the agricultural sector, pickers, packers, meat processors and vets from abroad are relied on heavily. The British Poultry Council has warned that these new rules will damage national food security. The hospitality sector at present estimates that 228,000 people from the EU alone are working in food and accommodation services. Clearly, under this new system, there is going to be a

shortage of workers in these sectors.

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The Home Secretary’s claim that there are eight million 16 to 64-year olds economically inactive and that they need to be trained to fill vacancies completely ignores the reality that the ‘economically inactive’ includes students, retired, carers and people on long term sick leave. That our Home Secretary has such limited understanding is alarming but then again, this policy isn’t really about immigration or what is best for the UK at all.

This policy is all about targeted, populist politics, it sends the message to the world that, far from being open for business, the UK is actually becoming a hostile and unwelcoming place.

This proposed system will have disastrous consequences for our economy, our public services and our reputation.