Pro-Brexit MP says coronavirus shows Tories may have got it wrong over immigration

PUBLISHED: 19:59 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:37 24 March 2020

Home secretary Priti Patel responds to a question on immigration during the coronavirus outbreak. Photograph; Parliament TV.

Home secretary Priti Patel responds to a question on immigration during the coronavirus outbreak. Photograph; Parliament TV.

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A Brexiteer MP has suggested that the Tories may have got it wrong over its approach to immigrants following the coronavirus outbreak.

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Brexiteer MP Steve Double in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.Brexiteer MP Steve Double in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Steve Double, a Brexit backer in the 2016 referendum, has called on home secretary Priti Patel to review her points-based immigration system in light of the country’s reliance on “cruical” workers to tackle COVID-1.

The MP for St Austell and Newquay was referring to the workers in food production, agriculture and retail, who have helped ensure food appears in supermarkets during the outbreak.

Appearing in the House of Commons, the politician said: “One of the things that this current crisis is teaching us is that many people that we consider to be low skilled are actually pretty crucial to the smooth running of our country and are in fact recognised key workers.

“Would [Priti Patel] consider that once we’re through this situation, we review our points based immigration system to reflect the things we’ve learned during this time?”.

Patel last month admitted that her new immigration rules could have stopped her own parents from coming to the UK, but claimed it was a “different system” for a different era.

She told LBC back then: “The policies are changing. This is the point. We are changing our immigration policy to one that’s fit for purpose for our economy, based on skills.”

But today, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, she said that the Brexiteer makes a “very, very important point” and that the new system is “under review”.

She replied: “A very, very important point, and we’ve never said that people at lower skill levels are unimportant.

“And as we know, right now, through this crisis, everybody is making a tremendous contribution and effort when it comes to keeping all services functioning and running, while at the same time ensuring care and compassion for workers and service provision that is essential right now.

“We will absolutely, with the points-based immigration system, as I have already committed to, keep all aspects of that under review, but the important thing with the points-based system is that we will ensure that points are tradable based on the skills and the labour market need that is required across particular sectors.”


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