In its lowest hours of popularity and on the precipice of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the year, Boris Johnson's government is clinging to a legal victory that resurrects the most unsympathetic part of the long process of leaving the EU. The new Immigration Law has completed its parliamentary journey and has real sanction. It will be a new system based on points (job skills, language skills …) that will put an end to the freedom of movement that guaranteed permanence in the European Union. As of January 1, young Spaniards will no longer be able to easily undertake that adventure of making the leap to the United Kingdom in search of work, which in many cases led to the construction of a vital project on the island. The Secretary of State for New Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster (Plymouth, 41 years old), defends the "justice" of a system that, according to the polls, has a majority support of the British.
Question. Are you not worried that the UK is more unfriendly to the rest of Europe?
Reply. All we are going to do is judge people by their abilities, by what they are capable of bringing to the UK, and not by where their passport was issued. Spaniards who want to come to study or work will be judged on the same scale as other citizens of nations historically allied to the United Kingdom, such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand. It is not about being against one or another nationality, but about having a universal immigration system that judges people on their talent, and not on their origin.
P. The new system is launched amid a considerable health and economic crisis. Are you not considering relaxing some conditions, such as that minimum of almost 30,000 euros per year of contract to be able to access the British labor market?
R. We are, of course, constantly monitoring the situation on the labor market, but given the impact we are currently seeing on employment, we have no intention of changing that limit, especially for low-skilled jobs.
P. Because behind this law lies the idea of prioritizing British workers …
R. We are confident that the new system will allow companies to prioritize hiring those who are already part of the British labor market. By the way, that includes all those who came here while there was freedom of movement and have regularized their situation. It is not a question of distinguishing between the nationalities of those already resident in the UK. But, for example, in sectors such as social care, the solution to long-term labor needs has been to hire foreign labor at a minimum wage. Our aim is for the new law to fill real gaps in the labor market with foreign workers who have the required skills, but not to offer a more advantageous alternative to hiring workers already present in the UK.
P. Until June 20, 2021, EU citizens already residing in the UK are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme (EU Settlement Scheme). Can you be reassured that there will be no change in your situation in the future?
R. We have already received 4.2 million requests, and granted the new status to 3.9 million people. None of them will see changes in their current situation, and they will enjoy in the future, "at least", the same rights that they enjoy today (that "at least", the formula used insistently by the British Government, is the cause of the fear of some European citizens that there will be hypothetical discrimination in the future).
P. Will the border control systems necessary to apply this new law be ready on January 1?
R. We trust that they are, because what should be clear is that Spaniards who come to the United Kingdom for a short period of time (up to six months), to visit relatives or go sightseeing, will not have to apply for a visa to cross. border. Now, those who want to come to work must apply for a prior permit from that date.