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Britain 'must ban unskilled migrants for five years' to hit 50,000 target

Unskilled migrants must be stopped from moving to Britain for five years to help push net migration down to under 50,000, Brexit campaigners have said.

A new visa system should be introduced that cuts numbers but still allows the "brightest and the best from around the world" to work in the UK, according to Leave Means Leave.

It has set out proposals that combine the Australian points-based system with plans for work permits that would come into force after the country has left the European Union.

Applicants would be assessed on their education, qualifications and suitability for work, according to report author Steven Woolfe.

The former Ukip spokesman, who quit the party following an altercation in the European Parliament that left him in hospital, sits as an independent MEP.

In a speech on Monday, Mr Woolfe will say: " With the UK on a path to leaving the European Union, the Government now has the moral responsibility to deliver the will of the British people.

"This report provides them with a blueprint for how they can do just that.

"We need an immigration system that is fair, flexible and forward-thinking. It must be fair in its outlook, flexible in practice and forward-thinking for our economy.

"Brexit is not about splendid isolation - it's about re-engaging with the world, without our wings clipped by the European Union.

"This new British working visa system will deliver on the will of the electorate. It won't mean pulling up the drawbridge, as we will continue to encourage the best and the brightest to migrate and settle here.

"But by introducing strict controls, an annual cap and a five-year freeze on unskilled migrants, it will reduce net migration year-on-year, lessen the strain on our public services and help build a more cohesive society."

Under the proposed British working visa system, there would be no cap on highly skilled workers, entrepreneurs or investors but unskilled visas would be halted for five years to bring migration levels down to 1990s levels.

Permits would only be granted if the applicant had a job offer with a minimum £35,000 salary and had passed an English language test, signed a five-year private health insurance contract and had savings in the bank.

Up to 50,000 temporary work permits would be issued initially for agricultural workers tapering off to zero by the third year.

Th ere would be no restrictions on the numbers of students who wanted to head to the UK.

Exemptions would be made for health workers if they were needed from overseas but the focus should be on increasing the number of Britons working in the medical profession, according to the report.

Benefits would only be available after a migrant had paid a set level of taxes for five years and r eunion rights for international students and temporary workers would end.

EU n ationals already settled in the UK would have the right to remain indefinitely as long as Brussels adopted the same approach to UK citizens living in Europe, but the Government should immediately announce a cut-off date for when new arrivals stop qualifying, the report said.

Conservative former C abinet minister Owen Paterson said: " The overwhelming majority of Britons feel absolutely no resentment towards workers or students from overseas, recognising and valuing the skills and experience which they bring.

"But mass migration at its current level has fostered resentment, depressed wages and placed an excessive burden on our public services."

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