Brown is expected to tighten migrant employment controls so that migrants are only used where there are labour shortages. He will strengthen the ‘Labour Market Test’ by extending vacancy exclusivity for UK citizens from 2 weeks to a month, and pledges to retrain British workers.
The proposals are welcome and the rhetoric is tough, giving some weight to the maligned call of ‘British jobs for British workers’. That there are planned, but unannounced, cuts in the skills budget undermines the pledge to retrain British workers, and it is unclear if these proposals are compatible with European employment law. Essentially, these proposals are the continuation of current policy. Like Johnson, Brown praised the points system, which Labour claim has reduced immigration by 44 per cent this year – though the worst recession since the war seems a more likely suspect. The Tories claim that the fact that 115,807 people have passed the UK citizenship test this year proves that this government has not addressed immigration and it is telling that this is Brown’s first speech on the subject as Prime Minister.