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Immigration White Paper

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 6 December 2018

I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and, as he has said, the Government will shortly publish an immigration White Paper setting out the details of our future immigration system.

As immigration was one of the key issues of the 2016 referendum, is it not a complete failure of Government that we will not have that White Paper before we vote next Tuesday? Can the Secretary of State say what he believes will happen with the crisis in our social care workforce once Brexit happens?

The hon. Lady is correct that it was a key area of debate during the referendum, and that is why it is also one of the key wins that the Prime Minister has secured in the withdrawal agreement. She has made it clear that freedom of movement is coming to an end and that we will put in place a skills-based system, so that we can recruit on the basis of what our economy needs, whether that is in social care, health or other sectors such as fintech. We can recruit on the basis of skills, rather than nationality. It is one of the key wins secured by the Prime Minister, and that is why this is a good deal.

As the Secretary of State has acknowledged, those campaigning for Brexit made controlling immigration central to their case. The Government have put it top of the 40 reasons to back the Brexit deal. Yesterday was assigned for Parliament to debate the issue, but the Home Secretary was unable to give any indication of the Government’s plans. The promise to publish the White Paper before Tuesday has been broken, apparently because Ministers have deeply conflicting views and cannot agree a policy. Blindfold on our future economic relationship and blindfold on migration, how can they expect the House to support them on Tuesday?

The exact opposite is the case. The clarity of the Government’s objective on immigration is signalled by the way that in the withdrawal agreement we have control of the way forward. That is why we will be able to take forward a skills-based system. It is for the Home Office to set out through the White Paper its approach. That is what it will do shortly, as I said a moment ago.