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28 Mar 2017

Davis says no cap on immigration after Brexit

“Immigration should rise and fall depending on the UK’s needs after it has left the European Union,” said David Davis on a special edition of Question Time on BBC. The Secretary for Exiting the EU spoke on BBC ahead of Wednesday’s formal Brexit notification and expressed the government’s view on several questions associated with the procedures.

Talking about the immigration plan of the UK’s government he mentioned that it will be arranged according to state and businesses’ needs. “The target of reducing net migration below 100.000 still applies. We will get there, but the simple truth is that we should manage it properly. You have got industries dependent on migrants, you have got social welfare, the NHS, you have to make sure that they can do the work.” said Davis. Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party (SNP), who was on the TV show’s panel, mentioned that “nurse registrations from Europe have dropped 75% since Brexit. In a full year that will mean there will be 7,000 less qualified nurses from elsewhere in the EU working in our National Health System (NHS).”

Many of the Brexit voters were concerned over the net migration level and wanted the number to be cut drastically. Nigel Farage, one of the most fanatical supporters of Brexit, had said that he wouldn’t mind cutting the immigration number, despite the fact it could harm the UK’s economy. Davis, expressing the government’s opinion on the subject, has a milder approach. “The first issue is to bring this back under the control of the UK’s government and parliament. I don’t think most people oppose migration, I think most people are in favour of migration so long as it’s managed. The point is that it will be managed. This is up to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd to decide how it can be done,” said the Brexit secretary.

A few days ago, David Davis fell victim of criticism when he stated that the UK government doesn’t know the cost of a “no deal with the EU” Brexit, in front of a parliamentary committee. During the BBC programme, the Brexit secretary stressed that ending the negotiations with the EU without a deal, is not a scenario the British government would want to see and he added that “we have spent nine months, since the Brexit referendum, preparing a plan. We have got a huge contingency plan, exercised across all these issues, every department of government”. Salmond attacked May’s government view that a “no deal” is better than a bad deal by calling it “nonsensical.”

The Brexit secretary was asked how much the United Kingdom will have to pay to exit the EU, since there has been a lot of speculation on the media. Davis said that “I don’t have any explanation for any figure cited anywhere else. The prime minister said we are coming to the end of the time when we are paying enormous sums into the EU. We’ll meet our international obligations but we expect also our rights to be respected too.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, who was on the Question Time panel, said that the UK should meet its obligations towards the EU so it won’t have negative consequences in negotiating future trade deals. Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg added that the EU only wants the UK to settle the tab before its exit.

Theresa May is expected to send a letter to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, on Wednesday, in which she will be informing him officially that the UK wants to exit the EU.