Amid chorus from Labour Party of risking alienation of health workers who have been at the forefront of battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the House of Commons has voted in favour of new immigration bill.
The controversial bill sailed through Commons by 351 votes to 252 since Tory’s enjoy majority of 80. Now, the bill will go for the scrutiny of Parliament. As and when it gets the royal nod, it will be a promise fulfilled by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the referendum of 2016.
The bill proposes to end the free movement of workers with the European Union and would also do away with the special immigration status the citizen of EU, the European Economic Area and Switzerland enjoyed, by December 31, when the post-Brexit transition period expires.
The bill doesn’t give clarity on how the new border controls will come into effect but Johnson has already made known his plans for a points-based immigration system that prioritises migrants with high-skilled jobs.
One of the key points during the 2016 referendum was the urge to regulate country's borders, ending the free movement of labour with the other 27 EU nations.
Allaying fears of some of the members, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The bill before us today will play a vital role in our recovery plans for the future. It will end free movement and pave the way for our new points-based immigration system.
“A firmer, fairer and simpler system that will attract the people we need to drive our country forward through the recovery stage of coronavirus laying the foundation for a high wage, high skill, productive economy.”
Notwithstanding Patel’s assertions, Nick Thomas-Symonds of Labour party attacked the government for what he called the move to alienate the people Britain relied on during the outbreak.
He said that as per new bill, the migrants will be expected to earn at least 25,600 pounds a year which is more than many health and social care jobs are paid.
He was quoted as saying by The Guardian: “It is rank hypocrisy towards our National Health Service (NHS) and care workers... to stand and clap for them on a Thursday night, and then tell them that they are not welcome in the UK on a Monday.”
Statistics reveal that around 13 percent staff at the NHS are of non-British origin and 5.5 percent of them belong to EU countries.
Patel told the House that the government has already brought in a fast-track visa for doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
Also to ensure the availability of healthcare workers, the government has proposed an automatic one-year visa extension of those frontline health and care workers whose visas are due to expire before October.
The UK finally left the EU on January 31 after years of political brinkmanship over how to go about the exit plan resulting out of the Brexit vote result.