Could Australian-style points-based immigration system follow Brexit?


Leading Brexit campaigners have unveiled plans to introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system if the UK votes to leave the European Union (EU) on June 23.

A statement from Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Priti Patel and Gisela Stuart sets out the blueprint for an immigration system which would spell the end of the automatic right of EU citizens to come to live and work in the UK.

Instead, the right to come to the UK would be based on skills.

The statement said: "By the next general election, we will create a genuine Australian-style points-based immigration system.

"The automatic right of all EU citizens to come to live and work in the UK will end, as will EU control over vital aspects of our social security system.

"EU citizens will be subject to legislation made by those we elect in Westminster, not in Brussels. We could then create fairness between EU citizens and others, including those from Commonwealth countries."

UK passport and visa application
(John Barker/Flickr)

The new system would mean all applications to live and work in the UK would be determined based on skills and qualifications "without discrimination on the ground of nationality".

The statement said: "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.

"Such a system can be much less bureaucratic and much simpler than the existing system for non-EU citizens."

UK Border signs at Heathrow Airport
(Steve Parsons/PA)

Immigration has been one of the most important driving factors in the referendum campaign so far and with a matter of weeks to go until the nation goes to the polls, the Leave campaign has finally set out its vision for post-Brexit border control.

The statement points out that some 77,000 jobseekers came to the UK from the EU last year despite it being government policy that people coming from Europe should have a job offer in place first.

It also highlights concerns that voting to Remain - and for the continued application of the principle of free movement - would mean increased pressure being placed on things like school class sizes, wages and UK security.

Boris Johnson
(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

It also suggests that the "tragic scenes unfolding in the Mediterranean underline how badly the European Union is handling population movements and migration pressures".

The new system would mean no change for Irish citizens or for EU citizens who are already lawfully resident in the UK. Such EU citizens would automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

But legal changes would be made to "take back the power to remove criminals and other persons whose presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good".

The statement also suggests there would be an immediate need to end the application of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights to UK law.

Border Force officer looks at a passport
(Steve Parsons/PA)

Will Straw, executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe, criticised the Leave campaign's announcement and suggested the proposed points-based system could lead to higher levels of immigration.

"This system will not work," he said. "Vote Leave's proposal could put up immigration and it would wreck our economy, as it involves leaving Europe's Single Market.

"Australia, who have a points-based immigration system, have twice as many migrants per head as the UK.

"Economic experts are agreed that leaving the Single Market would lead to recession - costing jobs and raising prices."