One of the most divisive issues for the new coalition Government in Britain has been immigration. The Labour Government had a points-based system, where decisions on who to let in was based on “points” they accumulated based on skills and experience. It’s a system that has been fiercely opposed by the now-in-government Conservative Party, which had been consistently calling for new immigration to fall to “tens of thousands a year” rather than “hundreds of thousands” through the introduction of a cap on numbers.
A far cry from their coalition colleagues, the Liberal Democrats, who during the election campaign had mooted an amnesty for illegal immigrants.In the early days of the coalition, it seemed that the Conservatives had had their way – with the idea of the cap making its way into a joint policy document that had followed many hours of hard bargaining between the two sides. It is said that a consultation would shortly be taking place with “businesses and other interested parties” on a wide range of issues relating to the cap and its implementation.
The Conservative plans to cut immigration have been widely criticized not only by human rights campaigners, but also by business leaders, who have argued that the cap could hear the economic recovery, by depriving businesses of key skilled staff and universities of students, deter foreign investors from putting their money into Britain, and lead to tit-for-tat tighter restrictions on British companies operating abroad.