UK to cut visas for low-skilled after Brexit

New points-based system is due to be introduced in 2021

epa08217238 Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel leaves Downing Street after a cabinet meeting in London, Britain, 14 February 2020. It is the first cabinet since British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffled ministerial posts 13 February.  EPA/NEIL HALL
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The UK will not give low-skilled migrant workers visas under plans to make the country a more hi-tech economy after Brexit.

The government said it was seeking to move away from relying on “cheap labour from Europe”. EU and non-EU citizens will be treated the same under the system.

Officials want to introduce a new points-based system but the plans have come under fire from the farming, care and hospitality industries.

Business leader say those sectors will take an economic hit as they will no longer be able to rely on the free labour movement rules enshrined within the European Union.

The UK officially left the EU last month but continues to abide by its rules until the end of the year.

The changes are due to start in 2021 and are also aimed at making it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas.

The system will award points for speaking English, having a job offer, and meeting minimum salary expectations.

Officials said the plans would allow the UK to have full control over who comes to the country for the first time in decades.

Immigration was a key theme of the 2016 referendum which saw Britons vote by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the world’s largest trading bloc.

A policy paper published on Tuesday said that the UK needed to shift the focus of its economy to “concentrate on investment in technology and automation”.

It added: "Employers will need to adjust."

Christina McAnea, the assistant general secretary of a union representing public service workers, said the plans were “absolute disaster” for the care sector.