Johnson clamps down on immigration

The British government has announced plans to introduce a points-based system for immigration in 2021: only skilled workers with at least university entrance-level qualifications and adequate English skills will be allowed into the country. In addition they must earn a salary of at least 25,600 pounds per year as employees. EU citizens will no longer enjoy special treatment. Johnson's supporters are delighted - Europe's press is divided.

Open/close all quotes
La Repubblica (IT) /

The end of freedom

This is a dramatic paradigm shift, columnist Francesco Merlo explains in La Repubblica:

“It is a shock of civilisation, the end of that open sea that connected Folkestone with Calais and the island with the continent via the tunnel. From today on, they are separated by the new Great Wall of Shame. ... So British first, which Theresa May invented long before [Lega boss Matteo] Salvini, will become Boris Johnson's British only: no more Polish plumbers or Romanian bricklayers, no more self-employment, because from now on foreign craftsmen must have a fixed income of at least 25,600 pounds sterling per year. Thus ends the English laboratory of freedom and Western civilisation into which the youth of Europe poured for sixty years. The only truly transnational area in Europe.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Flying in the face of economic good sense

Once again the government is demonstrating that Brexiteer voters are more important to it than any other voters, comments Handelsblatt's London correspondent Kerstin Leitel:

“At a time when the British are fully employed in economic terms - unemployment stands at 3.8 percent - companies are understandably reporting doubts that they will be able to find the employees they need in the future. Who's going to serve coffee to go in London, clean the hotel rooms in Manchester or slaughter cattle in Shropshire? Nevertheless, the draft law has been welcomed by some voters, and the tabloids are calling it a 'revolution'. So Boris Johnson has achieved his goal. After all, he doesn't pursue policies that are good for the economy - at least not if they mean he can't score with (pro-Brexit) voters.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Manpower shortages inevitable

De Standaard is convinced that the new system will hurt the British economy:

“'Taking back control' was the Brexiteers' slogan. And control meant above all stemming the influx of foreign workers. ... But the question is whether this system will benefit the British economy at all. Since the jobs for which relatively little training is needed are mainly done by migrants, businesses will soon be facing staff shortages. ... Companies are also afraid that they'll no longer be able to respond flexibly to demand. This system will make it more difficult to quickly recruit temporary workers. ”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Economy will benefit in the medium term

The positive effects of the reform will outweigh the negative ones, The Daily Telegraph counters:

“As we discovered in the Thatcher revolution of the Eighties, sometimes pain is worthwhile - if it produces a medium-term gain. In truth, curbing low-skilled immigration can change the economy for the better. Why? Because it will force the economy into higher-productivity, higher-wage industries. Just take a look at the evidence from the places where it has been tried. According to OECD data, each of the main countries with a points system has done significantly better than the UK at increasing output per worker.”