The final straw: Sajid Javid stoked tensions with PM’s team by secretly pushing for a two-year extension for unskilled EU migrants to come to work in Britain
- Chancellor insisted UK’s new border system would not be ready by December
- Treasury-backed plan was for temporary extension for low-skilled EU migrants
- ‘Ending low-skill migration is at the heart of Brexit’ said No. 10 source
Sajid Javid was secretly pushing for a two-year extension for unskilled EU migrants to come to work in Britain – stoking tensions with Boris Johnson’s team.
Relations between No 10 and No 11 Downing Street were stretched by the then Chancellor’s insistence that the UK’s new border system will not be ready by December and the migrants were needed to meet Mr Johnson’s ‘levelling up agenda’.
But Mr Johnson’s advisers insist the pledge to ‘take back control of Britain’s borders by December 2021 is a cornerstone of the PM’s entire policy agenda’ and that Mr Javid’s extension plan had set the pair on a collision course. Mr Javid raised his ‘immigration transition’ directly with the Prime Minister on multiple occasions in January but The Mail on Sunday understands he received short shrift from No 10.
Relations between No 10 and No 11 Downing Street were stretched by the then Chancellor’s insistence that the UK’s new border system will not be ready by December and the migrants were needed to meet Mr Johnson’s ‘levelling up agenda.’ Sajid Javid pictured on February 13
Hours after Mr Javid quit the Government in a row over a power grab, Mr Johnson’s new Cabinet signed off his ‘Australian style points system’ without any such extension.
The Treasury-backed plan would have seen a temporary extension for low-skilled migrants from the EU to obtain a visa and come work in Britain.
It would have been targeted at so called ‘low risk’ countries and those coming would not be able to claim benefits or bring their family.
But a No 10 source said: ‘Ending low-skill migration is at the heart of Brexit and failing to see that is a fundamental misreading of both the 2016 referendum and the 2019 Election result.’
A source aware of the Treasury plan downplayed the row but admitted that there was ‘a difference of view’.
The Whitehall source insisted that the Home Office will not be ready for anything other than a ‘crude’ new immigration system by the end of the year and Mr Johnson’s ambitious policy agenda requires a flow of labour.
Pointing to infrastructure building and broadband rollout as areas that would suffer as a result of ‘turning off the taps too quickly,’ the source added: ‘Sajid agreed that freedom of movement had to end and that as a country we are hooked on cheap labour.
‘But his transition would be legislated for only two years and be like using methadone to give up dependency on EU migrants.’