Points-based policy not a silver bullet for immigration issue, says Theresa May

Warnings to Brexxiteers About Immigration From UK PM May

The points-based immigration policy championed by Brexit campaigners has been dismissed by Theresa May, who said it was "not a silver bullet" to reduce the numbers coming to the UK.

An Australian-style immigration system was one of the key policy pledges made by Vote Leave campaigners including Boris Johnson during the referendum campaign.

However, Mrs May said there were questions about whether such systems ever worked, but vowed that free movement of European Union citizens could not continue in its present state after Brexit.

The Prime Minister also refused to rule out contributing funds to EU programmes after Brexit, despite the money paid to Brussels being another major issue in the referendum debate.

Mrs May would also not guarantee to meet the Vote Leave pledges of £100 million a week for the NHS or a cut in VAT on energy bills.

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As home secretary, Mrs May spent six years struggling but ultimately failing to reduce net migration to below 100,000 a year.

Speaking to reporters during her visit to the G20 summit in China she said: "You really don't want to ask a former home secretary about the intricacies of points-based systems. It might take a very long time answering your question.

"One of the issues is whether or not points-based systems do work, and so forth.

"What I say is the voice of the British people was very clear. They wanted control in the issue of the movement of people coming in from the European Union.


"They didn't want free movement to continue as it has done in the past. We will be going out there to deliver on that."

She added: "A lot of people talk about the points-based system as always being the answer in immigration. There is no single silver bullet that is the answer in terms of dealing with immigration.

"You have to look across the board, you have to look at the whole range of issues, not just how you bring control through the rules we have for people coming in, but also making sure you are rooting out abuse in the system and obviously dealing with people if they are discovered here illegally."

Challenged that people thought a points-based system was what they were going to get from Brexit, Mrs May said: "People voted for control. What they wanted to see was some control in the movement of people from EU countries into the UK."

Asked if she would rule out contributing funds to the EU she said: "What we are doing at the moment is looking, making our preparations before we actually trigger Article 50 and get into the formal negotiating process.

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"I think what we need to be doing is making sure that we can get the best possible deal for the UK when we leave the EU.

"I'm optimistic about that, I think we should be ambitious about that, and that's what I am.

"But I'm not going to give away my negotiating hand. I want to actually, let's do that work, let's be ambitious about what we can achieve and let's go out there and work for it."

She also repeated her desire for EU nationals to be allowed to remain in the UK after Brexit - but only if the rights of Britons overseas are respected, indicating it would be a priority in the talks with the other 27 EU members.

"I expect to be able to guarantee their status, I want to be able to guarantee their status. The only circumstances in which that wouldn't be possible is that if other EU countries don't guarantee the status of British citizens who are living in other EU countries.

"It's right and proper that I, as Prime Minister, say I must have consideration for British citizens who are living in the rest of the EU.

"I hope this is an issue we can resolve at an early stage."