The introduction to the Conservative Party manifesto launched on Sunday 24 November pledges ‘An Australian-style points-based system to control immigration’ by Boris Johnson in the event of a Conservative majority at the forthcoming election along with seven other guarantees. Also, in his introduction to the manifesto Mr Johnson states the government will take ‘control’ of the country’s borders – immigration should therefore be central to the campaign and future policy.
In relation to immigration the manifesto does not really unveil anything new to what has recently been announced by the Johnson administration, as highlighted by our posts - and is really a restatement, as follows:
- commitment to an NHS visa for doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals who can come to the UK with their families, through a fast track service with reduced visa fees
- ‘Fix our immigration system through the new points system,’ so migrants come on the basis of their skills and contribution they can make. It affirms migrants will contribute to the NHS, which is the current position and overall migration will come down – in the latter’s case a departure from Theresa May
- the UK will seek to attract the best science and technology graduates
- a page of the manifesto focuses on the Australian points-based system, but only states that selection will be aimed at English speakers, those who have complied with laws and have good qualifications. It also promises to deal with criminals, keep a track of migrants -presumably with checks at border points, overhaul the current system to prevent another type of Windrush scandal and treat all citizens alike, which seems to reassure EU nationals of their future status
- a Windrush memorial will be erected in a prominent site in London – previously announced by Theresa May
- it lauds the student visa route and proposes to attract entrepreneurs through the Start-up and exceptional talent routes – this seems to suggest an expansion of these. The Start-up visa although in its infancy, has had issues
- commits to recognising genuine refugees – probably to be expected.
The Conservatives promise a new system, but it remains to be seen in what form this will be delivered – will it really be a radical overhaul or a repackaging with tweaks? At least the UK already has elements of a points-based system. Ultimately, it is likely that they will be judged by migration numbers given who they seek support from.