By Steven Swinford, Deputy Political Editor, Hangzhaou, China
5 September 2016 • 10:00pm
Theresa May is considering banning EU migrants from Britain unless they have a job, it has emerged as the Prime Minister denied that she has gone “soft” on immigration.
Despite admitting that Britain will only get “some control” over freedom of movement rules after Brexit, it is understood that Mrs May is planning a tough work permit system to ensure that EU migrants cannot come to Britain looking for work.
It came after she was on Monday accused of “back-sliding” after ruling out Boris Johnson’s plans for an Australian-style points-based migration system.
Boris Johnson attended a Cabinet meeting hosted by Theresa May at the Prime Minister’s country retreat, Chequers, before the G20 Summit. Credit Stefan Rousseau
She said that such a system would be “open to abuse” and would entitle migrants to “automatically” enter Britain if they had enough points.
She added, however, that British voters only want an “element” of control over the free movement of EU migrants.
Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, and other senior figures from the campaign to leave the European Union said that they were “worried” about Mrs May’s approach.
The Prime Minister said she will instead balance controls on immigration with getting the “best deal possible for trade in goods and services with the EU”.
Speaking at the conclusion of the G20 summit in China, she said: “What the British people voted for on the 23rd of June was to bring some control into the movement of people from the European Union to the UK. A points-based system does not give you that control.”
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She said that shortly after becoming Home Secretary in 2010 she was told by border officers that one of the biggest problems facing Britain was foreign students.
She said: “They don’t speak English, they don’t know which institution they’re going to and they don’t know what course it is they’re doing. And so the system is being abused.
“But because they met the criteria they were automatically allowed in. And that’s the problem with a points based system. What the British people want to see is an element of control. There are various ways in which you can do that.”
However she also said five times that she only wanted “some” or an “element” of control over free movement of EU migrants.
Britain’s PM Theresa May listens to a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou on September 4, 2016. AFP photo
Mr Farage said: “The people were clear in wanting a points-based immigration system, which is why so many went out and voted to leave the European Union. Any watering down from that will lead to real anger.”
The approach has also angered Tory MPs who were part of the Leave campaign. The pledge was at the heart of the leave campaign and has been backed by five serving Cabinet ministers.
It came after Mrs May refused to commit to other key pledges from the EU referendum campaign, including ending Britain’s EU contributions and using the money give the NHS an extra £100million a week.
Mrs May was also forced to defend the fact that the level of migration rose significantly while she was Home Secretary.
She said: “In terms of immigration numbers as Home Secretary we did start putting the numbers down. They have subsequently risen. What we will not have an ability to do is when we come out of the EU have some control on the movement of people coming from the EU into the UK.”
What is it? The G20 is made up of the world’s leading industrialised and emerging economies. The Group of 20 accounts for 85 per cent of world GDP and two-thirds of its population. Much of the important business takes place on the sidelines and in informal meetings.
Which countries are in the G20? UK, US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Italy. Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Australia, South Africa, South Korea, Japan, China, India, Brazil, Argentina and Russia are also part of the club. A representative from the EU is involved too.
Why isn’t every country invited? Because it becomes more difficult to make decisions.
When did Britain last host a summit? 2009 when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister.
When did the meetings start? The first G20 summit of world leaders was held in Washington in 2008 hosted by President George W. Bush when countries coordinated a response to the global financial meltdown.
Is it effective? It has a mixed record. Many believe its failure to deliver on many past pledges raises questions about the credibility of future promises.
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