Stephen Flynn: UK immigration policy 'absurd, ignorant and will wreck the economy'

Stephen Flynn says areas such as hospitality, tourism, care and the NHS will be hardest hit by the home secretary’s new plans

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn is warning the UK Government’s migration proposals are “absurd, ignorant and will wreck the economy”.

Home secretary James Cleverly has announced a new five-point plan to cut immigration numbers, including banning care workers from bringing their families with them to end the “abuse of the health and care visa”.

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The threshold to apply for a skilled worker visa will also be raised by nearly 50 per cent from £26,200 to £38,700. The minimum threshold for a family visa will also be raised to £38,700 – up from only £18,600 – to “ensure people only bring dependents whom they can support financially”.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP's Westminster leader. Image: House of Commons/UK Parliament/Press Association.Stephen Flynn, the SNP's Westminster leader. Image: House of Commons/UK Parliament/Press Association.
Stephen Flynn, the SNP's Westminster leader. Image: House of Commons/UK Parliament/Press Association.

On top of this, the Migration Advisory Committee will be asked to review student visas “to prevent abuse and protect the integrity and quality of UK higher education”.

Mr Cleverly claims these measures, as well as previously announced measures tightening students’ ability to bring their family with them, will mean 300,000 people who entered the UK last year would not have been able to.

Now Mr Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, says the proposals will have a detrimental impact on a number of key industries in Scotland.

“The home secretary’s statement is absurd, ignorant and will wreck the economy,” he told the BBC. “We know migrants contribute more to the UK Treasury than what they take out.

“We know a 1 per cent increase in migrant share of the workforce is directly associated with productivity improvement of 1.2 to 3 per cent in the UK. Having more people working in our economy is good for tax intake, and that’s before looking at the impact on public services and the reality in Scotland is we need more migrants, not fewer.”

Mr Flynn said Scotland had a declining working age population and stressed migration was needed to solve this issue. He said this would be particularly felt in areas such as hospitality, tourism, financial services, care, education and the NHS.

The Aberdeen South MP added: “The argument in Westminster is based on right-wing ideology that does no-one any favours. It damages public services, and is in contrast to the Scottish Parliament approach laid out last month.”

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It is understood Labour are not planning to object to any of these measures if they require a vote in Parliament.

Speaking after the announcement, Labour’s shadow environment secretary Steve Reed told Sky’s Politics Hub: “I like the idea of it. It’s when you phase it in, because what you don’t want to end up with is care homes with no care workers and a lot of older people no longer being supported.”

In response to this, Mr Flynn said: “This seems to have the tacit approval of Labour, who say they like the fact care workers can no longer bring their families with them. That doesn’t just damage the care sector, it damages the NHS because there will be knock-on impacts on bed blocking.”



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