Boris Johnson says he will stop immigrants treating Britain 'as their own country'

Boris Johnson

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  • Boris Johnson says he would stop EU migrants treating Britain "as their own" if he wins the election.
  • The prime minister has vowed to introduce a points-based immigration system after Brexit which would award visas based on the perceived skill level of migrants.
  • Johnson guaranteed that this system would reduce immigration.
  • He told Sky News: "You've seen quite a large number of people coming in from the whole of the EU - 580 million population - able to treat the UK as though it's basically part of their own country..."
  • However, experts have questioned the proposals and Johnson's opponents accused him of "demonising" EU citizens.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Boris Johnson has vowed to stop European migrants treating the United Kingdom "as their own country" if he wins this week's general election.

The prime minister on Sunday told Sky News: ""You've seen quite a large number of people coming in from the whole of the EU - 580 million population - able to treat the UK as though it's basically part of their own country and the problem with that is there has been no control at all and I don't think that is democratically accountable.Advertisement

He added: "You have got to have a system by which politicians can say to people, 'Well, yes, we are letting people in but we are doing it in a way that is controlled and checked'."

The prime minister has promised to reduce net migration if returned to Downing Street.

To do this, he has said he will introduce a points-based system of the sort used in Australia, under which migrants wishing to come to the UK will be given one of three visas depending on their perceived skills level.
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Johnson said migrants with "exceptional talents" would be given the most rights to live and work in the UK. Skilled workers, like those in the NHS, would be permitted to move to the UK as long as they had jobs waiting for them. The third group, "unskilled" workers, would be given short-stay visas to work in sectors suffering from shortages.

The Migration Advisory Committee, the independent body that advises ministers on migration policy, would have the power to decide how many migrants each sector needs.Johnson guaranteed that this system would reduce the number of immigrants after Britain leaves the EU, telling Ridge: "Yes, I can make sure that numbers will come down because we'll be able to control the system in that way."Advertisement

Boris Johnson food market

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Experts question Johnson's immigration plans

However, experts have questioned Johnson's proposals and criticised his framing of immigration.

Jonathan Portes, a professor at Kings College London, told the Guardian newspaper that the proposed system undervalued the skills of migrants and would lead to shortages in certain sectors.Advertisement

"There's a damaging misconception in this debate that there's a binary divide between the brain surgeons and the people who pick strawberries - most ordinary immigrants are somewhere in between. Doing jobs that require skills but aren't necessarily highly skilled, and they would not pass this particular test," Portes said.

"Butchers, for example, or people who work in abattoirs - this is hard work and you need training. Most come from eastern Europe but are unlikely to make the highly skilled cut."

The Institute for Government think tank has previously expressed doubt that the UK Home Office, which is responsible for migration, could design and implement entire new immigration system in time for Brexit.Advertisement

Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrats' Shadow Home Secretary, accused Johnson of "demonising" EU citizens who "contribute so much to our NHS, social care and economy"

She told Business Insider: "This dog-whistle politics is straight out of Nigel Farage or Donald Trump's playbook.

"Conservative plans to end free movement would mean fewer EU nurses and care workers, and fewer opportunities for UK citizens to move abroad.Advertisement

"Neither Johnson or Corbyn are standing up for free movement and for the millions of EU nationals who are our friends, colleagues and neighbours. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Boris, stop Brexit and build a brighter future for the country."

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