Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed he is considering tearing up key parts of Theresa May’s Home Office legacy today with major changes to UK immigration policy.
Javid announced he is looking at lifting the cap on the number of foreign doctors who can work in the NHS, after medics from outside the EU have been repeatedly refused visas.
The Home Secretary, who has been in the job for just five weeks, also suggested he would push to take overseas students out of the net migration target.
Both reforms are believed to be opposed by the Prime Minister, who stands by the policy of getting net migration down below 100,000-a-year.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Javid indicated he was willing to take the fight to the Prime Minister over both issues.
The cap on doctors has been described as “bonkers” and “barmy” by one NHS Trust boss, and Tory MPs including the Health Select Committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston have urged the government to remove health workers from the restriction.
Javid acknowledged that the current system means “a number of doctors that are qualified, that our NHS needs are being turned away.”
He added: “I see the problem with that. It is something that I’m taking a fresh look at.
“I know a number of my colleagues certainly want me to take a look at this, and that’s exactly what I’m doing and I hope to think about this more carefully and see what can be done.”
The current immigration rules place an annual limit of 20,700 on tier 2 immigrants coming to the UK from outside the EU. This tier includes doctors, as well as other skilled workers who are needed to fill vacancies in the UK job market.
The limit has been hit for the last five months, meaning 120 doctors from India recruited to work in the north of England were refused visas three times.
In another sign of departing from Theresa May’s policies during her six-year stint as Home Secretary, Javid hinted he would try to remove overseas students from the net migration target figure.
He told Marr he can “empathise” with the claim the current system “doesn’t sound very welcoming” as there is an implied emphasis on students leaving the UK once they have finished studying.
When asked about reforming the calculation so students are no longer included, Javid replied: “It’s something I have long considered. It is not my most urgent priority when it comes to immigration right now – we’ve talked about Windrush and other issues, but it is something I would like to look at again.”