London Mayor Boris Johnson today branded the Coalition's immigration cap "a shambles" - putting him once again on a collision course with the Government.
London Mayor Boris Johnson today branded the Coalition’s immigration cap “a shambles” – putting him once again on a collision course with the Government. Last month it was reported that he had threatened to quit over proposed cuts to Crossrail and London Underground; he only confirmed he would stand again last Friday.
In a column in this morning’s Telegraph, he writes:
…Labour had already introduced a points-based system, but the Tories wanted to go further. They were, of course, statutorily incapable of addressing a large part of the problem – immigration from the 27 countries of the EU.
So at the end of June, the Coalition imposed a strict numerical cap on all skilled non-EU immigration. The result, I regret to say, is a bit of a shambles. Leading London law firms say that they cannot import some of the finest legal minds on the planet, because they cannot get enough visas.
Universities and cancer research institutes cannot recruit the right overseas academics, damaging their long-term reputations. Ballet stars and film directors are finding themselves excluded from London’s arts scene, and across the world of business and finance there is a block on the intra-company movement of the kind of highly skilled technicians – especially in IT – who are crucial for keeping a business competitive. There is an Asian electric vehicle company that was due to set up here, but is now thinking of moving to Amsterdam because they can’t migrate their boffins here in time. And so on.
The overwhelming view of British business is that this policy needs refinement, and I have to say I agree…
A point made by Nick Clegg during the election campaign. In the first prime ministerial debate, the Liberal Democrat leader had said:
“We can’t just say a cap, what is it? 10, 10,000? A million? What if you reach the cap in the middle of summer and someone wants to come and play football for Manchester United or Manchester City? Do you say they can’t come? No, let’s have a regional approach where you only make sure the immigrants who come go to those regions where they can be supported.”
In the same debate, David Cameron defended the cap by saying:
“I think a cap is necessary because we’re not going to control immigration unless we actually take some quite positive and concrete steps. I think we let down everyone if we don’t do this properly. I was in Plymouth recently, and a 40-year-old black man made the point to me.
“He said, ‘I came here when I was six, I’ve served in the Royal Navy for 30 years. I’m incredibly proud of my country. But I’m so ashamed that we’ve had this out-of-control system with people abusing it so badly.’
“If we don’t address immigration properly, we’re letting down immigrant communities, as well as everybody else. So we do need a cap.”