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Sajid Javid suggests Home Office’s ‘hostile’ immigration approach could soften

The new Home Secretary said lessons needed to be learned from the Windrush scandal.

Sajid Javid has signalled there could be a softer approach to immigration policy under his leadership at the Home Office.

The new Home Secretary said that the “hostile environment” policy towards immigrants will be reviewed in the wake of the Windrush scandal.

He also said he would look again at the inclusion of foreign students in net immigration figures and the cap on “tier 2 visas” which is preventing non-EU foreign doctors from coming to the UK.

These could put Mr Javid on a collision course with Theresa May, with the Prime Minister signalling as recently as April that the Government’s goal of cutting net annual immigration below 100,000 would remain in place after Brexit.

Mr Javid, who replaced Amber Rudd after she resigned over Windrush at the end of April, said there were lessons to be learned from the controversy, in which Britons were wrongly expatriated to Caribbean nations.

In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Javid said that he regarded “hostile environment” as a “negative term, a non-British term” that he wanted to replace with a “compliant environment” that distinguishes between illegal and legal immigrants.

He said: “I’m going to look at how it’s been implemented.

“I want to review aspects of the policy. I’ve already made some changes.”

One of the changes is suspending the ban on illegal immigrants opening bank accounts, he said, saying the Home Office was not sure its data was accurate enough.

He added: “From Windrush, I think there will be lessons to learn about how that compliant environment policy is actually implemented. Is it working the way that it was intended?”

Mr Javid was asked whether he supported the manifesto policy to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands and repeatedly replied that “I’m committed to our manifesto”.

He said he would like to “look again” at the inclusion of foreign students in net immigration figures, saying it had a “perception problem”, but adding that it was “not my most urgent priority”.

He also said he was taking a fresh look at the cap on “tier 2 visas” which allow non-EU foreign doctors to come to the UK.

Last week The British Medical Journal said that between December 2017 and March 2018 more than 1,500 visa applications from doctors with job offers in the UK were refused as a result of the cap on workers from outside the European Economic Area.

Mr Javid told Marr: “I see the problem with that and it is something that I’m taking a fresh look at.

“I know a number of my colleagues certainly want me to take a look at this and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said: “The Home Secretary will have the support of almost everyone in Parliament to exclude students and medical staff from the immigration cap, but it’s far from clear that the Prime Minister is willing to admit her long-cherished policy is wrong.

“I hope Parliament can get to vote on this as soon as possible.”

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