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Friday Update: 21st February 2020

Written by Callum Williams

This week, the Government unveiled their new post-Brexit immigration system as both the Democrats and the Labour Party continued their leadership battles.

Post-Brexit Immigration System

To address the concerns regarding immigration expressed during the referendum, the Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a new points-based immigration system which will come into effect on the 1st of January 2021.

The new system will require potential migrants to have a job offer, qualifications equivalent to A Levels and the ability to speak English. Most migrants will require a salary above £25,600 but those working in fields with labour shortages e.g. nursing or those who hold PhDs may have a lower salary of at least £20,480.

The Government, in its policy document, claims the new system will be a ‘firm and fair’ system which will attract the ‘high-skilled workers’ required for the economy and public services. The document states the government’s intention is to ‘create a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy’.

However, many organisations have already raised concerns.

The social care sector faces significant challenges under the new system as foreign workers account for a sixth of the adult social care sector within England and currently one in 11 jobs are vacant. Since most jobs within the sector are paid less than £20,000 per year and the MAC (migration advisory committee) don’t classify social care as a ‘shortage occupation’, it is unlikely potential migrants in this sector would be eligible under the new system.

Other industries also raised concerns, with the Royal College of Nurses saying the planned system did “not meet the health and care needs of the population” and the President of the National Farmers’ Union Minette Batters saying the plans “[failed] to recognise British food and farming’s needs”.

The Impact on Scotland

Scotland faces a unique population problem compared to the rest of the UK as current forecasts predict Scotland will have more deaths than births for the next 25 years and so relies on immigration to prevent depopulation. The new plans have faced criticism by multiple Scottish Industry leaders with James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink accusing Johnson’s government of “fundamentally misunderstands how our [Scotland’s] economy works”.

To tackle these challenges, Scotland’s First Minister Nichola Sturgeon suggested a Scottish Visa and the devolution of immigration to Holyrood, allowing Scotland to have a separate immigration system to deal with its differing requirements. However, when the proposal was initially suggested at the end of January, Johnson called the idea “absolutely fanciful and deranged”.

Analysis

Johnson is beginning his legislative agenda by responding to the concerns of those who put him in office and who propelled the Leave campaign to victory. However, in the process, he has ignored the concerns of industry experts and created a system which could create significant economic problems for the UK.

Despite Johnson’s claim that he wants Scotland to stay in the union, he seems to be doing everything to break up the union. Sturgeon presented a reasonable compromise to Johnson which he dismissed without discussion or due consideration, failing to recognise the unique needs of Scotland. This type of behaviour not only damages Scotland’s economy but gives rise to pro-independence sentiment as Scotland begins to feel even more discontented with Westminister. If Johnson is not careful, despite his pro-union rhetoric, he may go down in history as the Prime Minister who broke up the Union.

Labour Leadership Election

Three of four remaining Labour leadership hopefuls have reached the final round of the contest after Emily Thornberry was knocked out of the leadership race after gaining only 31 constituency nominations, two short of the threshold.

Now Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy alongside all five deputy leadership candidates will battle it out for the votes of Labour’s 580,000 members.

Both elections will be conducted by an alternative vote system where voters will rank the candidates by preference. After the first preference votes are counted, if no candidate has 50% support, the candidate with the least support will be eliminated and then second preference votes will be redistributed, this continues until a candidate has reached the 50% threshold. The new leader and deputy leader will be announced at a special conference on the 4th of April.

Analysis

Due to limited polling, the Labour leadership election is hard to predict although Starmer appears to be the front runner as he tolerable to the supporters of both other candidates and both the centrists and more left-wing factions of the party. So, presuming Starmer can survive round one by gaining enough first preference votes, he will likely ascend to Leader of the Opposition on the 4th April.

Democratic Primaries

The battle for the Democratic nomination has begun with Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg emerging as the early front runners. Two states have held primaries so far: Iowa and New Hampshire. The Iowa caucus was overshadowed by technical failures leading to a draw between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg followed by a narrow win for Sanders in New Hampshire.

This Saturday, Nevada will hold their caucus followed by the South Carolina Primary the following week. However, the first significant indicator of Democratic contest will come on Super Tuesday, on the 3rd March, where 16 states including California and Texas will hold primaries. By the end of March, it should become clear who will oppose Trump in the 2020 election.

Further Reading

Want to know more about the Democratic Primaries? Read more articles here.

Want to know more about the Labour Leadership Election? Read more articles here.

About the author

Callum Williams

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