Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington, attended the Parliamentary debate virtually on Monday to speak against the Government’s new ‘Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal)’ Bill.
The Bill repeals laws related to free movement and gives Ministers sweeping powers to create a new immigration system without full Parliamentary scrutiny. It paves the way for Ministers to introduce a new ‘points-based’ immigration system.
The Government’s proposals for this new system include the minimum income requirement of £25,600. Under these rules, some 66% of our current health and social care workforce would not be eligible for a visa to entry the country.
Many participants in the debate highlighted the hypocrisy of Ministers clapping for our carers – many of whom are from immigrant families – every Thursday, meanwhile labelling them ‘low-skilled’ and making it impossible for others like them to enter the country.
Jeff joined opposition MPs in opposing the Bill, highlighting the extremely worrying nature of the ‘Henry VIII’ style powers it would bestow on the Government. He also raised concerns about the proposed income requirement and how this undervalues the very workers who have been so essential to supporting the country through the coronavirus crisis, as well as the impact it will have on the health and social care sector and our wider economy.
Jeff expressed his regret that so many people in Britain would lose opportunities as a result of the Government ending free movement, and highlighted particularly the likely impact on the UK’s music and entertainment industry.
Jeff voted against the Bill, but it passed with the support of Government MPs and will now go through line-by-line scrutiny at committee stage.
You can read a transcript of the debate, including Jeff’s full speech, here.