SNP claim Tory backbencher calls to cut migrant numbers would damage Scotland’s economy

The New Conservatives had demanded Downing Street reduce the number of migrants by 400,000.

The SNP has claimed Tory backbencher calls to cut migrant numbers would damage Scotland’s NHS and economy.

Monday saw a new backbench group, composed of MPs on the Conservative party’s right, issue a 12-point plan to cut the number of migrants by 400,000 by closing visa schemes for care workers and increasing salary thresholds to £38,000.It would also cut the number of carers, despite a report by the Skills for Care charity revealing the vacancies in social care was at its highest rate on record, with 165,000 unfilled posts in 2021-22.

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As Downing Street confirmed there were no plans to remove care workers from shortage occupation list, the SNP labelled the proposals “reckless”.

The SNP's Alison Thewliss criticised the calls to reduce migrant numbers.The SNP's Alison Thewliss criticised the calls to reduce migrant numbers.
The SNP's Alison Thewliss criticised the calls to reduce migrant numbers.

SNP Home Affairs spokesperson, Alison Thewliss MP, said: "These draconian Tory plans are a threat to Scotland’s economy, NHS and public services - and they show exactly why Scotland needs the full powers of independence.

“Scotland's NHS, care sector and key industries are already facing staffing shortages because of Brexit - and these wreckless plans to slash the number of overseas carers, nurses and workers would do even more damage to Scotland's economy and public services.

"The Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party are both engaged in a toxic race to the bottom on migration - inflicting long-term damage to our NHS and economy by ending EU membership and free movement, and introducing hostile policies that go against Scotland's interests.”

The 25-strong caucus of right-wing Tory MPs come from the 2017 and 2019 intake, and include Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson and backbencher Miriam Cates.

In the report, MPs tell the Prime Minister that a promise to reduce immigration formed a key plank of Boris Johnson’s 2019 victory, which saw the Tories make sweeping gains in former Labour heartlands or so-called “red wall” seats.

The group says the current post-Brexit system has been “too lenient” and is not working, saying that “mass migration is having destabilising economic and cultural consequences”.

On the issue of visas for care workers, the report says: “Visa eligibility for both care workers and senior care workers were introduced as ‘temporary’ measures to address post-pandemic labour shortages."

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Between 2014 and 2022, about 54,000 people were resettled or relocated to the UK under refugee schemes.

On Monday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman refused to say whether Rishi Sunak was frustrated by Mr Anderson’s support of tougher migration rules but acknowledged there were “different views on each side”.

Asked whether care workers could be removed from the shortage occupation list, the official replied: “That’s not an approach we’re considering currently. Again, we know there is significant demand in the care sector for staff.”

On whether Government would remove the ability of overseas students to stay in Britain for a certain time after their degree has finished, he said: “I’m not aware of any plans to go that far. Obviously I think people would recognise that highly trained students with the skills the UK wants and needs are people we should welcome.”

Downing Street did not rule out a 20,000 limit on refugee resettlements, as the report recommends, but suggested any cap would be for Parliament to “make a judgment” on rather than for the Government to set “unilaterally”.



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