Boris Johnson accused of 'misleading' public over promises to reduce immigration

8 December 2019, 17:08

Boris Johnson has been accused of 'misleading' the public by Jonathan Ashworth
Boris Johnson has been accused of 'misleading' the public by Jonathan Ashworth. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Boris Johnson has been accused of “misleading” the public over his promises to reduce immigration.

The Prime Minister has long supported an “Australian-style points-based immigration system”, which would put no limits on highly educated workers coming to Britain after Brexit.

It would also fast-track and offer reduced fees to doctors, nurses or social care workers who want to come to work in the NHS.

Mr Johnson said on Sunday in an interview with Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that he could guarantee “numbers will come down” as part of the “controlled” measures.

But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the show Mr Johnson was “misleading” voters about the effectiveness of the proposed new system.

He told Ms Ridge: "We should have a fair and balanced immigration system, of course we should, but he's (Boris Johnson) imposing a tax on nurses coming from the EU and beyond, to come and work for our NHS to care for our sick and elderly, he's going to exacerbate the staffing crisis in our NHS with his proposals.

"And he's also misleading the British people, because he's trying to give them the impression that he's going to be bringing immigration down, but when you look at the details of what he's announced today, he's saying he's going to hand over decisions on who will get a visa to an independent committee.

"There will be no democratic control, there will be no accountability over any decision that any immigration minister makes, because it will be handed over to a statutory independent committee - so again, Boris Johnson's lying to the British people."

Questioned on whether a Labour government would raise migration levels under any circumstances, Mr Ashworth added: "You want an immigration system which reflects your needs in the economy."

Asked whether if the economy needs it, Labour would permit a rise, he added: "If the economy needs it, then of course people should come here to work in our economy."

Mr Ashworth added that the UK "should absolutely maintain free movement for the National Health Service and the social care sector" as they "literally could not survive if we did not continue to recruit internationally".

Discussing Labour's social care policy, he said "essentially we're announcing free personal social care".

He added: "It means that no one will have to pay anything for the care that they get in their home, support getting out of bed... this is about ensuring fairness in the system."

Pushed on the costings of the policy, Mr Ashworth said: "Well we're putting £10 billion extra in."

On whether Labour would agree to cross-party talks on social care legislation, Mr Ashworth said if Labour lose the election, "we'll deal with it then" but that he's "always prepared to talk to whoever".