The positive influence of inbound peoples from all around the world to this country is one of the great strengths of modern Britain. Our healthy and diverse population produces leaders in every aspect of our global society, and long may that continue.
But, as the international movement of people increases at an ever-quickening pace, it is vital that we exert some control over new arrivals to ensure our finite resources are sustainable.
Having left the EU we will soon be able to implement our own system of immigration, one that will be fairer and more outward looking. The new ‘points based’ arrangements announced last week will take effect from 1st January 2021 and whilst ending free movement from the European Union, the new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. It gives priority to those with the highest skills and greatest talents and it is surely right that we welcome people to work in the UK based on their merits, not their nationality.
The entry criteria skilled workers will need to meet will include the ability to speak English, a job offer and a minimum salary of £25,600. In addition, we will also continue to attract economic migrants in sectors where there is particular demand, such as offering a new fast-track visa for doctors and nurses applying to work in the NHS.
Many of our rural businesses here in Maidstone and The Weald are another case in point, and I am very pleased that the Government are expanding the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme for 2020, so that UK farmers can hire up to 10,000 people to recruit the labour they need to manage the harvest.
History tells us, however, that there is a fine line between success and failure in immigration policy. I will therefore continue to liaise with the Government to ensure our system works for our people, our families and our businesses here in Kent.