Brexit Secretary David Davis today revealed the Government would be seeking a “more rigorous” immigration system than the one operated by the Australian government.
Speaking in the Commons today for the first time since his appointment to Cabinet, Davis said the Government was determined to deliver a border control policy which matched expectations of those who voted for Brexit in the EU referendum.
Earlier today the Prime Minister ruled out adopting an Australian-style points-based immigration system – a policy advocated by Leave campaigners such as the now-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Her announcement led to claims she was “backsliding” on border control by Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
This afternoon, Davis sought to quell fears the UK would not regain control of immigration after Brexit.
He said: “What the Prime Minister said in China is very clear: she wants a results based immigration system, one that actually delivers an outcome that the British people vote for.
Davis added: “She was concerned that a points-based system was actually too open ended, that it did not actually put a control on the number of people coming to the UK and therefore she wanted something which sounded like it would more rigorous, not less.”
Fellow Brexit campaigner Bernard Jenkin told the HuffPost UK it was “wrong” to suggest the PM was “backsliding”.
He said: “We are going to get back control of our immigration system. Whatever immigration system the government chooses to have its under our control.”
May’s refusal to adopt a points-based system also picked up support from Lord Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK.
He said: “The issue is confidence in the government’s intention to reduce immigration from the EU. This is what the public voted on, not on a particular system. In fact the Prime Minister was right to indicate that the Australian Points-Based System is not appropriate for the UK.
“The way forward is to expand and adapt our present work permit system. In reality this will be simpler and more effective.”
There are three categories under which migrants can apply for a permanent visa to live in Australia: Skilled Worker; Family; and Humanitarian.
It is only the Skilled Worker category in which the points aspect kicks in. Criteria in which applicants are given points include age, work experience, education level and English language ability.
However, it is not true to suggest that everyone who reaches the points criteria is given a visa, as every year the Australian government sets limits on the number which can be issued.
Speaking in front of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration today, the Australian High-Commissioner to the UK spelt out the how the system could restrict immigration.
Alexander Downer said: “We decide that we will take, for example, 78,000 skilled migrants and that’s how many visas we will issue.”
He added: “Even with the family reunion [visas], and like I say that is largely the partners of Australian citizens, we don’t take everybody who applies every year in that year because we’ve reached capacity.
“We don’t just institute a cap. We work out how many people we want in a given year and that’s how many visas we will issue.”
Despite Davis’ development of the Government’s strategy towards immigration, the Brexit Secretary was criticised for revealing nothing new about his renegotiation plans.
Former Tory Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “We are none the wiser about the Government’s plans after David Davis’s statement. An optimistic tone is not enough and the phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’ has surely passed its shelf life. It’s time for some detail.
“Workers and businesses want to know much more about the Government’s direction of travel. Our economy and security depend on it.
“David Davis himself said membership of and access to the Single Market are different. He is right. Access is available to anyone but would impose trade barriers – costing jobs and investment – whereas membership is by far the best deal for Britain.”