Now with January 31st far in the past, it would seem that post-Brexit Britain isn’t quite living up to the dystopian nightmare anticipated by Remainers. Mrs Jones can still wander over to the post office, purchase her daily Mars bar and munch it down, followed by a fistful of statins to keep the cholesterol at bay. No stock-piling needed. However, with Farage and his posse released from the bureaucratic grips of the European Parliament, an overwhelming Conservative majority Government and the puppet master himself, Dominic Cummings, in prime position at Number 10, it was only a matter of time before we saw a policy which reflected the new direction of our humble nation. And what better place to start than immigration – a cornerstone of the Brexit debate.
With ‘tighter immigration rules’ on the lips of the majority of Brexiteers, it seems only fair that the Conservative Party delivers on a ‘points based system’ – similar to that of Australia’s. Despite being framed by Priti Patel – the Home Secretary – as a move to ‘unleash this country’s full potential’ by attracting the ‘brightest and best from around the globe’, it is a policy that we can hardly get excited about.
Let’s translate this abstract idea into more practical terms. The rules of the game are simple. 70 points are needed to win. In order to enter there are three prerequisites: a job offer with an approved employer (20 points), the appropriate skills to fulfil the job (20 points) and proficiency in the English language (10 points). This leaves 20 points up for grabs in order to make it through to the finish-line. A PhD gets you 10 points (20 in a STEM subject) or a salary of at least £25,600 will get you 20. Those earning less than £20,480 do not qualify.
This contentious new system is planned to reduce EU migration by 70% – a figure celebrated by those who’ve been sold the narrative of migrant workers ‘stealing’ British jobs. However, it won’t be long before we feel the impact of the shortfall in workers in ‘low-skilled’ sectors such as social care and construction. But don’t worry, Priti Patel has done some research and found the magic number – it’s 8.45 million – the number of ‘economically inactive’ British citizens ready and waiting at the side-lines to be ‘upskilled’ and re-enter the job market. In actual fact, this number falls to around 60,000-80,000 when we consider that 27% are students, 26% the long-term sick, 22% caring for family members and many in early retirement. As we learn more about the inner workings of the ‘reinvigorated’ Home Office amid accusations of bullying by the Home Secretary and the resignation of top civil servant Philip Rutnam, we wonder what policies will be dreamt up next in this dysfunctional department. It is clear that this move doesn’t mark a ‘reinvigoration’ but a ‘continuation’ of a Tory led Home Office responsible for hostile policies such as the Windrush Scandal.