New government 'global talent' visa scheme for post-Brexit Britain described as 'Tory gimmick'

PUBLISHED: 08:26 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:26 27 January 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speak in 10 Downing Street, London. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/PA.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speak in 10 Downing Street, London. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The government's new 'global talent' visa route for post-Brexit Britain has been described by critics as a 'marketing gimmick.

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Boris Johnson said he wanted to send a message that Britain is open to the "most talented minds in the world" as the country leaves the European Union.

The "Global Talent" visa route - to be opened on February 20 - will not be capped. It will replace the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route.

The scheme, managed by the UK Research and Innovation organisation which will endorse applicants, will enable UK-based research projects that have received recognised prestigious grants and awards to recruit global talent.

Applicants will not need a job offer before arriving in the UK under the visa and it will provide an accelerated path to settlement for all scientists and researchers who are endorsed on the route.

Johnson said: "The UK has a proud history of scientific discovery, but to lead the field and face the challenges of the future we need to continue to invest in talent and cutting-edge research.

"That is why as we leave the EU I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stands ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality."

Home secretary Priti Patel said: "The UK is a world leader in science, with research and innovation that changes lives being undertaken every day in this country.

"To keep the UK at the forefront of innovation, we are taking decisive action to maximise the number of individuals using the Global Talent route including world-class scientists and top researchers who can benefit from fast-tracked entry into the UK."

The government has also announced a £300 million investment to fund experimental and imaginative mathematical sciences research over the next five years.

It will double funding for new PhDs and boost the number of maths fellowships and research projects.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: "Leaving the EU gives us new freedom to strengthen research and build the foundations for the new industries of tomorrow.

"By attracting more leading international scientists and providing major investment in mathematics, we can make the UK a global science superpower and level up our country."

Professor Julia Buckingham, president of Universities UK, said the visa is a "positive step towards" making the UK a "magnet" for global science and research talent.

She added: "The visa route will help to ensure that universities can attract the brightest scientists and researchers to the UK with minimal barriers."

But Liberal Democrat home affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine said the announcement was "nothing more than a marketing gimmick".

"Boris Johnson is showing that he fundamentally doesn't understand what makes our science sector so successful. Changing the name of a visa and removing a cap that's never been hit is not a serious plan.

"Science relies on thousands of researchers, and this announcement does nothing for the vast majority of them. If the Government is serious about championing UK science, it must prioritise continued mobility as part of our future relationship with the EU.

"The government's new immigration system is due to come into force in less than 12 months, and we still have no idea what it will look like. UK employers, individuals and families urgently need certainty about what the rules will be next year."

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