Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have pledged to introduce a "genuine Australian-style points-based immigration system" before the next general election if the UK votes for a Brexit at the referendum on 23 June.
Prospective migrants to the UK must learn to speak English and have relevant skills for a job, the leading Leave campaigners have said, setting out the rules they hope to introduce if Britain votes to leave the EU.
The pledge from the campaign group is the first major effort at forming policy for a post-Brexit government and represents a bold challenge to David Cameron’s authority.
In a joint statement, also signed by employment minister Priti Patel and Labour’s Gisela Stuart, the MPs say a points system is the only way to "restore public trust in immigration policy".
If the UK votes to leave the EU, the "automatic right of all EU citizens to come and live and work in the UK will end", they say.
"Those seeking entry for work or study should be admitted on the basis of their skills without discrimination on the ground of nationality. To gain the right to work, economic migrants will have to be suitable for the job in question. For relevant jobs, we will be able to ensure that all those who come have the ability to speak good English," the statement adds.
Australia uses a dual immigration selection scheme including employer sponsorship programmes and the skilled migration visa, which is based on a points system.
Skilled migration visas are only granted if applicants pass a test related to employment prospects, skills, education, and English language skills. Applicants must also be under 50-years-old.
The announcement from the Leave campaign follows a referendum poll giving the Brexit camp a narrow lead with less than a month until the vote.
The Guardian/ICM poll, which carried out both online and telephone questioning, indicated a 52 per cent lead for Leave.
Responding to the Leave campaign’s proposal, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has been a long-time advocate of the Australian points system, tweeted: “Everything I've said on immigration, for which I've been condemned, is now mainstream. I now believe we will win this referendum.”
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