Speaking in Margate at the anti-immigration/anti-EU UKIP's spring conference, Nigel Farage said that the UK should have an Australian-style points system to determine who can settle in the country. Perhaps a bit of an odd remark to make as the UK has had a points based system since 2008.
Support for Points Based System
Farage is not alone in calling for a points system. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is also a strong advocate. In October last year, during an interview on the Andrew Marr show, Johnson said: "On the border controls thing, that is critical and I think that is now emerging as the number one thing we need probably to sort out in this renegotiation.
Why shouldn't we have some sort of points-based system, such as they have in America or Australia, why shouldn't we have that?"
Again, a somewhat odd remark to make. We do not believe that there has ever been an US points based system.
Net UK migration figures released
Following the release of net migration figures, showing that almost 298,000 foreigners arrived in the UK in 2014, Farage seized the opportunity to criticise David Cameron.
The Prime Minister had pledged to reduce UK immigration figures to the tens of thousands. However, according to the new statistics released on February 26, numbers are almost treble David Cameron's initial target.
During his address to UKIP delegates, Farage said: "Cameron pledged that a Conservative government would reduce immigration into the UK to tens of thousands of people per year and that we should judge him on his record. Well the figures were close to 300,000 a year.
What UKIP must do is inject new impetus into the immigration debate. Only by removing Britain out of Europe, and reclaiming the nation's borders, can we provide the British public with an opportunity to support something they want, and UKIP will campaign for country to implement a points system similar to Australia's."
Office for National Statistics
The ONS says that the surge in immigration numbers was fuelled by increases in immigration from outside the EU, which is subject to a complex visa process, and within the EU, where free movement rules apply.
Australian Points System
There are various skilled immigration visa categories in Australia. Immigrants looking to gain entry into Australia as skilled migrants need to gain points based on their skills, qualifications, work experience, etc.
Farage repeating misleading remarks
Opposition parties said that Farage's comments are nothing new. In July last year the UKIP leader also said that Britain should adopt a points-based system like the one used in Australia.
Many commentators say that Farage is mentioning the Australian system as a way of pushing his anti-immigration agenda, at a time when figures suggest David Cameron is a long way off reducing immigration numbers to the tens of thousands as promised by him before the last General Election.
UK Points-based system since 2008
As mentioned already a points system has been used in Britain since 2008, introduced by the previous Labour government as the first of its kind in Britain. Applicants for Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 visas gain points based on various criteria in order to determine their eligibility to work or study in the UK.
The implementation of a points-based system in Britain in 2008 was at the time also likened to the Australian system. It's introduction replaced the previous scheme which consisted of 80 different types of UK visa. In fact even before 2008 the UK had a points based system called the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).