Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has dismissed a suggestion from her Cabinet colleague Boris Johnson by insisting the Government has “no plans” to make it easier for Australians to come to Britain after Brexit.
Ms Rudd said she does not want to increase immigration from Australia, despite the Foreign Secretary’s insistence last month that it would be a “fantastic thing” if the UK had a “more sensible system” for dealing with migration between the two countries.
Mr Johnson had met his Australian counterpart last month for a bilateral meeting in London and said: “I'm very confident that we will be able to at least sketch out, pencil in, the essentials of a very progressive deal that will be good for Australia, good for the UK, good for Europe and good for the world.”
Asked about Mr Johnson’s comments, she told a Times Red Box fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham: “Somebody promised to increase immigration from Australia, who would that be?”
When the questioner replied “Mr Johnson”, Ms Rudd went on: “Mr Johnson again, yes.
“There are no plans to increase immigration from Australia... We have a very good relationship with Australia and young persons’ access, particularly to Australia, is very good.
“Julie Bishop [the Australian foreign minister] was over just a few weeks ago, we agreed that it was a good thing. She is aware, as everybody is, that everything is under review. But I do think that that particular scheme with Australia works very well, so I wouldn’t envisage a change.”
Ms Rudd also cast aside indications from her Cabinet colleagues that certain groups will be exempt from the Government’s curbs to immigration after Britain leaves the EU. The Chancellor Philip Hammond has previously signalled that highly skilled workers, including bankers and businessmen, will be exempt while Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, has indicated that European builders will be allowed to work in Britain following Brexit.
But speaking at a fringe event in Birmingham, Mr Rudd said she had “noticed” that “all different ministers are going around saying my lot are going to be fine”.
The Home Secretary added: “But the fact is we’re still doing the work on it. The Prime Minister has said we will be changing freedom of movement within the European Union. We will. My department is leading on this and we are looking at the best way to implement that and I’m going to be taking it forward to the Brexit Cabinet committee in due course. We’ve got to make sure that we don’t disadvantage our economy as we do it.”
Asked whether the ministers were getting “overexcited”, Ms Rudd replied: “Well I think ministers are entirely rightly complaining on behalf of their constituent parts and I’m listening carefully.”
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