The government has announced stricter immigration and citizenship rules to come into place after Brexit, with Sajid Javid later telling the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner that he was unworried by the suggestion such rules would have prevented his own father entering the UK.
The home secretary used his speech to the Conservative party conference to say people seeking British citizenship would face tougher English-language requirements, part of an immigration overhaul that will include the end of free movement from the EU.
In a broad speech set to intensify speculation about his leadership ambitions, Javid unveiled plans for a beefed-up “British values test” to replace the Life in the UK test for those looking to settle in the country.
Overnight, he and Theresa May had announced proposals for a single immigration system that treats people from EU countries the same as those from non-EU countries. Highly skilled workers who want to live and work in Britain would be given priority, while low-skilled immigration would be curbed.
Speaking later in an interview on the conference fringe with Viner, the home secretary said he was not concerned by the thought that under such a regime his father, who arrived from Pakistan in 1961 with £1 and no skills, would be barred from entry.
When his father came, Javid said, the entry system was very different as the governments of the time “wanted, needed, a route for low-skilled migration”.
Asked if it made him sad this would no longer be the case, he said: “No, it doesn’t make me feel sad. Actually, with today’s policy it makes me very optimistic about our future. Because what I have also set out is that we will remain the global-outlook nation that welcomes people from across the world, no matter where they’re from.”
In his speech, Javid announced plans aimed at improving integration and described the current Life in the UK test as a “pub quiz”.
“It’s about integration, not segregation,” he said. “And I’m determined to break down barriers to integration wherever I find them. Take, for example, the most basic barrier of all: language.”
Javid said 700,000 people living in the UK could not speak English.
“As home secretary, I will apply these principles to those who arrive in our country. So not only will there be a new values test but we will also strengthen the English-language requirements for all new citizens.”
Highly skilled migrants coming to the UK on a work visa will not face tougher language requirements than those already in place, the Guardian understands.
Javid said earlier he would consider scrapping the cap on the number of highly skilled migrants as part of the post-Brexit plan. The limit is currently 20,000.
Applicants will need to meet a minimum salary threshold – for highly skilled migrants this currently stands at £30,000 – but Javid has hinted that this will be reviewed.
In his speech in the main hall, the home secretary said: “Thanks to the [Brexit] referendum we now have a unique opportunity to reshape our immigration system for the future.
“A skills-based, single system that is opened up to talent from across the world. A system that doesn’t discriminate between any one region or country. A system based on merit. That judges people not by where they are from, but on what they can do.
“What people want – and they will get – is control of our own system. With a lower, and sustainable level of net migration. And, above all, that has to mean one thing: an end to freedom of movement.”
The government has said it intends to publish a white paper this autumn and a bill the following year, meaning it is highly unlikely MPs will get to vote on the legislation before the UK leaves the EU in March.
In the interview with Viner, Javid, who has previously spoken about how his mother did not learn to speak English until more than decade after she arrived in the UK, talked about his anger at the unfair targeting of people from the Windrush generation by immigration enforcement.
“The first thing that went through my mind is that it could have been my parents,” he said. “Imagine if this was my mum or my uncle, someone who had lived in Britain their whole life, contributed so much, being detained or, worse, removed from the country.”
But Javid vehemently rejected that the post-2010 Conservative government had been primarily responsible for the Windrush crisis with the so-called hostile environment policy, saying a lot of it had begun under Labour.
“If people portray this as a problem that happened under a Tory government, it’s incorrect. It’s either bad reporting or a deliberate attempt to twist the fact,” he said.
Javid, who again spoke about a range of subjects well beyond his official brief, was similarly blunt about Labour’s interventionist economic policies, saying: “The trouble is, Jeremy Corbyn really believes what he says. And he’s completely deluded.”
Elsewhere in his speech, he announced a package of new measures to tackle forced marriage, including proposals to refuse spousal entry to the UK where there is evidence a marriage is forced.
source – https://www.theguardian.com/ (05/11/2018).