Damian Green has dismissed reports he has misgivings about Theresa May’s post-Brexit immigration plans as “nonsense”.
Proposals to force a cut in low-skilled migrants from Europe, leaked to The Guardian, suggest offering EU migrants residency for a maximum of only two years.
The first secretary of state said the plans were “not government policy”.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Green, the first secretary of state, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd have reservations about the draft proposals.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Green, the first secretary of state, rubbished the story.
“That report in the Daily Telegraph is just nonsense,” he said. And he claimed to have “never seen” the document. “This was one draft,” he added.
“We will have our immigration proposals in a few weeks time and at that point we will be happy to debate all the details of them,” he said.
“It is clear we will need to change the immigration system because the traditional free movement that EU citizens have enjoyed will go when we leave the EU.
“We will need a new system. We want both to make sure we continue to attract more than our fair share of the brightest and best people.
“But at the same time we do think that we need to control the numbers better. We need lower numbers than we have had in recent decades.
Green added: “If we have too many low skilled workers coming in, one of the effects coming in to depress the wages of those at the bottom end of the wage scale.”
Yesterday, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said May had suppressed up to nine reports which showed that immigration did not hit wages or jobs of existing UK workers.
“When I was Business Secretary there were up to nine studies that we looked at that took in all the academic evidence,” he said.
Cable, who served as business secretary in the coalition years when May was home secretary, added: “It showed that immigration had very little impact on wages or employment. But this was suppressed by the Home Office under Theresa May, because the results were inconvenient.
“I remember it vividly. Overwhelmingly it has been the case that overseas workers have been complimentary rather than competitive to British workers.
“The exodus of trades people, NHS staff and tech industry workers shows the potential damage of an extreme Brexit.”
MPs today will begin debate the government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill which aims to transpose existing EU law into UK law.
Labour has pledged to vote against the legislation on Monday, arguing it is a “power-grab” by ministers.