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The SNP were forced to suffer a slight in Parliament as a Tory MP took the opportunity to make a dig at the Scottish party. The Commons were meeting to take questions on the progress Home Secretary Priti Patel has made on introducing a new points-based immigration system. Home Office minister Kevin Foster threw a jibe at the Opposition benches as he highlighted their failure to stop the bill.
He told the House: “We are ending free movement, and are introducing a new firmer, fairer, skills-led, global immigration system.
“Last month our immigration bill passed through this House un-amended despite the best efforts of the Labour Party and the separatist benches.”
After his targeted comment, laughter could be heard from the Commons benches, but it was unclear who exactly.
The SNP have been gunning for a second independence referendum since they secured a victory in the December 2019 general election.
The House of Commons approved the general principles of the new immigration law by 351 votes to 252 in May, and it is now going on to receive further scrutiny.
The bill repeals EU freedom of movement and introduces the new framework for who can come to live in the UK.
It also paves the way to introduce a new points-based system.
The Home Secretary claims the Government’s plans will lead to a “high skill” economy.
Mr Foster emphasised in the Commons that employers should focus on improving the skills of their workforce rather than relying on immigrant labour.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary said while the proposed points-based immigration system would still allow businesses to attract the “brightest and the best from around the world” the onus would be on businesses to upskill UK resident workers.
During Home Office questions, Tory MP Lee Anderson asked for assurances the Government would implement a “firm but fair” immigration system while ensuring “British jobs for British workers.”
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Mr Foster replied: “The points-based system will support our wider economic strategy by encouraging investment in the domestic UK workforce while ensuring that businesses can still attract the brightest and the best from the around the world.
“We want employers to focus on training and investing in our domestic workforce, driving productivity and improving opportunities for resident workers with immigration policy being a part of, not an alternative to our strategy for the UK labour market.”
Ms Patel told the Commons: “At a time where an increased number of people across the UK are looking for work, the new points-based system will encourage employers to invest in the domestic UK workforce, rather than simply relying on labour from abroad.
“But we are also making necessary changes, so it is simpler for employers to attract the best and brightest from around the world to come to the UK to complement the skills we already have.”
Labour said it would scrutinise the proposals “very carefully”, saying the government had “rushed through immigration legislation with very little detail in the middle of a global pandemic”.
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