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Wolves of Westminster

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PM unveils pro-science immigration policy on Facebook Live, urges MPs to get on with Brexit

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Credit: HM Government (via Facebook Live)

8 August 2019 | UK NEWS

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has addressed the nation via Facebook Live to announce details of a new immigration policy to provide a fast-track route for the best scientific talent to enter Britain after Brexit. The PM also announced new spending plans initiated in the last few days, covering an extra £1.1bn in funding for the police to provide 20,000 more officers, alongside £1.8bn for the NHS, allowing for major upgrades to 20 hospitals.

Mr Johnson has reportedly instructed the Home Office to work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to formulate a new visa programme that will prioritise opportunities for scientists and their dependents to enter the country and reside with minimal friction, in collaboration with the scientific community. The Prime Minister’s announcement to the nation can be viewed here:

Speaking at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire today, the Prime Minister said: “Britain has a proud history of innovation, with home-grown inventions spanning from the humble bicycle to the lightbulb.

“We were home to the world’s first national DNA database, we discovered graphene, and our cutting-edge scientists should be proud to follow in the footsteps of titans like Ada Lovelace and Nobel Laureates Francis Crick and Peter Higgs. But to ensure we continue to lead the way in the advancement of knowledge, we have to not only support the talent that we already have here, but also ensure our immigration system attracts the very best minds from around the world.”

The plans are understood be cover a wide range of options, which are still under discussion. One of these could be to abolish the 2,000-per-year cap that currently applies to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas, while another is to allow more British research institutions to endorse candidates for immigration. In terms of their dependents, there is the potential to withdraw the requirement for an existing job offer.

Separately, the Prime Minister has urged fellow MPs to “get on and deliver” Brexit during a BBC interview today, in which he also refused to rule out proroguing Parliament in order to ensure a successful Brexit at the end of October. He said he was “confident” that a new agreement with the EU could be reached before the scheduled Hallowe’en departure date, but also reaffirmed his stance that the “unacceptable” Backstop could not be part of it.

Remarking that Parliament had already voted to trigger the Article 50 process, and that it was therefore the job of Parliamentarians to see the result through, Mr Johnson said: “I think what everybody wants to see, including my friends and colleagues in Parliament, is us deliver on the mandate of the people.

“I think that’s what the voters want, I think it’s what Parliament should do and that means coming out of the EU on October 31. I think that what MPs should do and what I think they’ve already voted to do when triggering Article 50 and reconfirmed several times, is honour the mandate of the people and leave the EU on October 31.”

Amid reports that a motion of No Confidence may be laid in the House of Commons very early after MPs return from their summer recess in September, one senior Number 10 source was quoted as saying: ” We can’t stop them forcing an election but we control the timetable so we will force the date after October 31. If there must be a general election, then it will be days after October 31.”

This would seem to be in reference to reports that, should his Government lose a vote of No Confidence, the Prime Minister intends to use his prerogative powers to delay the date of a forthcoming election until after the end of October, in order to ensure that Brexit is delivered regardless. It comes as Mr Johnson echoed his commitment not to sit down with EU negotiators until they agree to remove the Backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement, which has been his stance since entering office a fortnight ago.

Elsewhere on the UK political scene, The Telegraph has run an analysis piece explaining why it would not be possible for Jeremy Corbyn to see the Queen to demand that he be allowed to form a Government in the event of Mr Johnson losing a vote of No Confidence, as the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, suggested earlier this week.

The Mirror also carries a story today reporting that the Labour Party has lost 46,000 members over the past year, suggesting that this could be attributed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and allegations of anti-Semitism within the Party, as well as its stance on Brexit.

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