United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday said Britain’s post-Brexit immigration system will prioritise high-skilled workers and that European Union citizens would no longer be entitled to preferential treatment over people from elsewhere, Reuters reported.
The prime minister said low-skilled migration will be reduced after the Brexit measures are incorporated. “It will be a skills-based system where it is workers’ skills that matter, not where they come from,” May said. “It will be a system that looks across the globe and attracts the people with the skills we need.”
The UK is due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, but the two sides are yet to agree how trade will work between them afterwards. Currently, the European Union freedom of movement allows people from the European Economic Area to travel and work in the UK without visas, irrespective of their skill set.
In September, London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for another referendum on the United Kingdom’s European Union membership and criticised the government’s handling of Brexit negotiations with the EU.
May’s announcement has drawn criticism from several quarters including business owners who hire low-skilled workers from outside the country, The Guardian reported. The Confederation of British Industry said the plan will worsen the current shortage of care, construction and hospitality workers.
The British Retail Consortium said the policy should be based on the economy’s needs.
European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said the move will trigger a heated debate. “We will have an interesting meeting [at the October summit] as far as Brexit is concerned,” Juncker said. “We want a deal. Those who think a no deal would be the better solution are not aware of the difficulties that such a scenario would imply.”