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PMQs: Boris Johnson’s immigration plan defence branded ‘delusional’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 26, 2020. See PA story POLITICS PMQs. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 26, 2020. See PA story POLITICS PMQs. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has been branded “utterly delusional” after claiming all UK businesses would have enough workers under his government’s controversial immigration plans.

The prime minister dismissed fears that new restrictions on low-paid staff would deliver a “devastating blow” to care homes, tourism firms, as well as the farming and fishing industries.

And he claimed the alternative of a separate Scottish visa system, or the “SNP’s solution of a border at Berwick”, was the “height of insanity”.

Mr Johnson was defending the points-based system proposed by the Conservative government at Westminster after being challenged by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

The Tory leader admitted they were “important concerns to raise”.

He added: “We will ensure that everywhere in this country – all businesses, all agricultural sectors, all fishing communities of this country – will be able to access the labour and the workforce they need, under our points-based system.

“But what will be the height of insanity, Mr Speaker, would be to proceed with the SNP’s solution of a border at Berwick between England and Scotland.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA

Uproar at a decision to end low-paid workers from overseas coming to the UK led to a rise in support last week for a separate Scottish immigration system.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw even suggested he could seek concessions from the Home Office to ensure Scotland’s needs are “appropriately met going forward”.

The height of insanity would be to proceed with the SNP’s solution of a border at Berwick.”

Mr Blackford seized on the negative reaction north of the border to the plans, as he challenged Mr Johnson to rethink his opposition to devolving immigration to Holyrood.

At prime minister’s questions in the Commons, the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP said: “This week we learned that 40% of small businesses in Scotland employ more than one EU national.

“Mr Speaker, immigration is crucial for Scotland’s economy, so it is no wonder that the Scottish Government’s proposals for a Scottish visa system have been universally welcomed by businesses and charities alike.

“Even the Scottish Tories think it’s a good idea. The prime minister rejected these proposals within a few short hours. Does he now admit this was a mistake?”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. PA

Responding to the SNP MP, Mr Johnson said: “Mr Speaker, it was not only I who rejected the proposal but also of course the Immigration Advisory Committee.

“And that is because we are bringing forward a very sensible proposal which the people of this country have long desired, whereby we take back control of our immigration system with a points-based system.”

Even the Scottish Tories think it’s a good idea.”

Mr Blackford branded the remarks “utterly delusional”.

He added: “Let us look at the reality. Scottish Care has said that the prime minister’s damaging immigration plans shuts the door on enabling people to be cared for in their own home.

“The general secretary of the GMB union said the plans could genuinely tip businesses over the edge.

“Scotland’s National Farmers’ Union has said that evidence has been disregarded by the UK Government.

“And the Scottish Tourism Alliance say their plans will have a devastating impact for Scotland’s workforce.”

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