The UK government has said it intends to regain control of its borders and reduce low-skilled migration. London also said it will spend nearly €800 million on border infrastructure to intensify checks and regulation.
The UK on Sunday announced plans to introduce a post-Brexit, points-based immigration system so that it an “take back control of its borders and unleash the country’s full potential.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the new system will apply from January 1, when the UK ends its 11-month transition following its official departure from the European Union.
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Post-Brexit UK will be “a sovereign nation with an immigration system that attracts the best from all over the world,” Patel wrote in British newspaper The Sun.
The government has vowed to cut back on low-skilled migration and instead entice skilled English-speaking professionals such as “scientists” and “innovators” with confirmed job offers.
“We are cutting red tape and giving businesses more freedom to hire people from across the globe,” said Patel, adding that the UK government was following a “clear instruction to take back control of our borders” in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Opposition Labour Party’s shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, warned that the government had “rushed through immigration legislation with very little detail in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Multimillion-dollar UK-EU border control system
The UK government has also announced almost £705 million (Є788 million, $890 million) in funding for a new border infrastructure system to prepare for checks and controls and help keep trade flowing from January onwards.
Cabinet chief Michael Gove said the funding includes £470 million to build port and inland infrastructure, including in the southeast of England to allow major freight crossings to France. There are also plans for new border posts, improved IT systems and recruitment of 500 new staff to deal with the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU’s Customs Union.
In a letter to Gove, leaked to the media this week, International Trade Minister Liz Truss expressed concern that border infrastructure would be delayed, citing disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
She warned that the delay in imposing checks could trigger a legal obstacle at the World Trade Organization, adding: “I would like assurances that we are able to deliver full controls at these ports by July 2021.”
When asked whether the UK’s borders would be ready and secure by the end of the year, Gove told local media: “I am absolutely certain that everything that we do is compliant with the law, indeed is designed to ensure that we cannot just comply with the law and keep people safe, but also facilitate trade as well.”
Regarding the negotiations between the UK and the EU about a post-transition trade deal, Gove said, “There are hopeful signs, but I wouldn’t want to be over-enthusiastic.”
The Conservative Party politician also added that more information concerning the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol will be released “later this month.” The border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and EU-member state Ireland will be subject to specific guidance.