Johnson: Migration very important for UK economy

"The door is closed under our points based system for the unskilled" 20th July 2009: Less than a week after his view on not putting a cap on the number of immigrants was endorsed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said he is in favour of bringing in more skilled migrants, while virtually closing the doors to the unskilled workers.

Even as the opposition and the critics blamed the newly-appointed Home Secretary for being completely unworried on Labour’s widely criticised border policy, Mr Johnson made clear the Government’s commitment to even higher levels of immigration in an interview on BBC1’s Andrew Marr show.

Mr Johnson said the Government had a duty to make the case for yet more immigration, as a continuing influx of workers from across the seas would only boost the country’s economy. He said: “I don’t think a cap is the answer because the problem with a cap is it’s an arbitrary figure, and what you need to do is to ensure that you make the case – and there is a very strong case – for the importance to our economy of migration.”

He went on to say that the UK has “introduced a system where rather than an open door policy, it’s a closed door policy for the unskilled. The door is closed under our points based system for the unskilled. The door can only be opened from the inside for those who are skilled – i.e. we determine that we need those jobs and we advertise them first in Job Centre Plus to see if there’s any local people who can take those jobs before we allow them through.”

The Home Secretary defended the points based system that was introduced last year, saying it “is a really effective way of tackling these issues at the same time as ensuring that we keep a strong economy in this country.”

Reacting to the development, senior Tories said Mr Johnson’s remarks only showed he was out of touch with reality. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said he really did not think the ministers understood the importance of tackling the immigration problem.

Mr. Johnson was just the latest in a long line of ministers utterly complacent about immigration at a time when Britain required a cap, and a proper border police force, to come down heavily on illegal immigration, he insisted.

Sir Andrew Green of the population think tank Migrationwatch said the home office had itself admitted reduction in immigration by eight per cent last year, when the requirement was a 75 per cent reduction to keep the population below 70million mark.

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