Priti Patel says it's 'right' workers speak English before entering UK ahead of immigration announcement

Home secretary says new policy puts control of immigration in hands of British government for first time in decades – but Labour brands it 'meaningless'

Louise Hall
Wednesday 19 February 2020 00:15 GMT
Priti Patel vows tough immigration rules ahead of government commissioned review

Priti Patel has said that it is ‘right’ that workers should have to learn English before they come to the UK.

Speaking ahead of an announcement on the government’s new points-based immigration system, the home secretary stated that immigrants will ‘obviously’ need to speak English and have a ‘sponsored route’ through employment or an academic institution in order to gain a visa.

“We're being very clear about this - this is a system that puts the British government in control of its immigration policy for the first time in decades.

“And, yes, it is right that people should speak English before they come to our country, that they should have a sponsored route, whether it's through employment or a sponsored route through an academic institution.“

For those who live already live in the UK but do not meet the thresholds of the governments new point based system, Patel cited the EU Settlement Scheme which has received 3.2 million applications.

Details of the radical plans to overhaul immigration will be released on Wednesday and Ms Patel confirmed discussions had been held with the devolved administrations ahead of the announcement.

"There's been discussions taking place across the whole of government for a number of months and, in fact, even prior to the general election there'd been discussions taking place across all government departments and the devolved administrations," she said.

The introduction of a new system of immigration with stricter controls on who can enter the country was one of the core pledges made by the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Salary thresholds for skilled migrants will be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600 for those coming to the UK with a job offer and points will be awarded for key requirements such as having a job offer from an approved sponsor or have a job offer that is at a 'required skill level.'

However, all applicants - both EU and non-EU citizens - who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has publicly criticised the new plans.

"This isn't an 'Australian points-based system', which is a meaningless government soundbite. It's a salary threshold system, which will need to have so many exemptions, for the NHS, for social care and many parts of the private sector, that it will be meaningless.

"Ultimately, it will also be very difficult to attract the workers we need at all skill levels while the Tories' hostile environment is in place. It needs to go," she said.

The new system is set to come into force on 1 January 2021.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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