The FT reports that the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, denies that the UK immigration system prevents talented foreign scientists from entering the country.
He does, however, admit that ministers must tackle the “perception” overseas that the “brightest and best” are not welcome in Britain or that the country is closed for business.
George, it’s not a “perception”, it’s a fact! It’s not rocket science!
The Home Office or UK Border Agency (UKBA) have brought in tough new restrictions on those coming to work, study or join their families in the UK The measures are designed to meet the Conservative party’s pledge to slash net migration to by over 100,000 down to the “tens of thousands” by 2015.
The Cameron ideology, to cut immigration, ignores economic logic as it smashes everything in its way, much like in the early Thatcher era when coal mines were destroyed leaving many thousands jobless just to silence the militant unions.
Osborne was challenged about the Immigration Rule changes during an interview with Sir Paul Nurse, a leading scientist who is currently president of the Royal Society.
Sir Paul, who was guest editing Today the BBC radio news programme on Thursday, told Mr Osborne that his scientific colleagues around the world felt they are no longer “entirely welcome” in the UK since the Immigration Rules were changed.
The chancellor responded: “If that is the perception then we must change it because I don’t think it matches with the actual reality of the regime. You do have to have immigration control and the public lost confidence in immigration control, so it is important that the government gets [back] public confidence.”
Osborne was firm that the regulations did not keep out the best brains from abroad. “We do have a couple of routes into the country for talented scientists. One involves the Royal Society, which is scientists of exceptional talent – I am talking about the very best scientists in the world – they are fast-tracked into the UK,” he said.
The chancellor added that despite fears expressed by university leaders, international students did not face barriers getting into Britain.
“I think, for the kinds of people we are talking about – people with real talent and ability and significant educational achievement behind them – they should have no problem in coming and working here,” Mr Osborne said.
The new immigration policies have been a source of increasing political tension over the past few months, following disagreements within the Tory party over whether the measures are a block to growth.
Mr Osborne has criticised the Home Office for its slow response on streamlining the visa system for high-spending Chinese tourists, and Boris Johnson, the Tory mayor of London, accused the government of being “crazy” in its treatment of international students.
In a speech on immigration this month, Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary, attempted to defend some of the negative perceptions that her policies have created, confirming that there would be “no cap imposed on foreign student arrivals”.
She will not need a cap, since students are already going elsewhere following numerous ‘crackdowns’ on so-called bogus students.
Ms May also told the Financial Times shortly before the speech that “everything” her department was doing to keep the UK safe contributed to the coalition’s growth agenda.
“Companies want to know that if they’re coming into the UK, if they’re bringing staff into the UK, that there’s that stable and secure background that people are coming to,” the Home Secretary said.
There will not be much growth in the education sector in the next couple of years, as May’s policies have already forced it into recession.
Billions will be lost to Osborne’s coffers, as thousands of students in the UK who want continue to study at British universities and colleges are told by the UKBA “go home, you’re not welcome here”.
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