British PM Backs Plans For Tougher Migration Control After Brexit
Theresa May has defended the idea of new controls on EU nationals in the wake of a leaked document outlining proposed tough post-Brexit immigration plans, saying they would help protect UK wages, The Guardian writes.
Speaking at the first prime minister’s questions since the summer recess, May did not refer directly to the Home Office document leaked to the Guardian, but gave a general defence of greatly reducing the numbers of EU arrivals after Brexit.
Following a series of questions from Jeremy Corbyn about low wages and executive pay, which avoided any mention of Brexit, the prime minister was quizzed by Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP’s Westminster group.
“Does the prime minister agree with me that immigration is essential to the strength of the UK economy, as well as enhancing our diversity and cultural fabric?” Blackford said, referring to the document outlining plans to deter all but highly skilled EU workers.
“I have said on many occasions before that overall immigration has been good for the UK,” May responded. “But what people want to see is control of that immigration. That’s what I think people want to see as as result of coming out of the European Union.”
She argued that controls were needed in part to maintain wage levels. “We’re already able to exercise control in relation to those who come to this country from outside the countries within the European Union,” she said, “and we continue to believe as a government that it’s important to have net migration at sustainable levels – we believe that to be the tens of thousands – because of the impact particularly it has on people at the lower end of the income scale in depressing their wages.”
Asked by Blackford if she was “dancing to the tune of her rightwing backbenchers” on immigration, May reiterated her point.“There is a reason for wanting to ensure that we can control migration,” she said. “It is because of the impact that net migration can have on people, on access to services, on infrastructure. But crucially, it often hits those at the lower end of the income scale hardest.
“It’s important that we bring in controls. We want to continue to welcome the brightest and the best here to the United Kingdom and we will continue to do so.”
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