British Prime Minister vows to clampdown on immigration
Gordon Brown in a speech on Thursday promised to clampdown on immigration into the UK.
London -- Britain will tighten the rules on senior doctors and other workers from outside Europe taking jobs here, in a clampdown on immigration announced by embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday.
In what was billed as a major speech on immigration, he said it was not just an issue for 'fringe parties' -- an apparent reference to far-righters hoping to draw voters in elections next year which Brown is tipped to lose.
"I have never agreed with the lazy elitism that dismisses immigration as an issue, or portrays anyone who has concerns about immigration as a racist," he said.
"Immigration is not an issue for fringe parties
nor a taboo subject
," he added in a speech in west London, home to large Asian and central European communities.
Specifically Brown pledged to tighten up the points-based system for determining which migrants can work in Britain, which grants work visas to people in occupations where there are shortages, but not to others.
"We will remove more occupations and therefore thousands more posts from the list of those eligible for entry under the points-based system
," he said.
Hospital consultants, engineers, skilled chefs and care workers could be among the professions facing new restrictions.
Immigration has moved up the political agenda as unemployment swells due to the global downturn, as reflected in the success of the far-right British National Party
in European elections in June.
BNP leader Nick Griffin notably said he no longer considered London to be a British city because of its hugely diverse ethnic make-up
, the latest wave of which has included hundreds of thousands of central Europeans -- typified in the so-called "Polish plumber."
"If the main effect of immigration on your life is to make it easier to find a plumber, or when you see doctors and nurses from overseas in your local hospital, you are likely to think more about the benefits of migration than the possible costs," said Brown.
"But people want to be assured that newcomers will accept the responsibilities as well as the rights that come with living here -- obeying the law, speaking English, and making a contribution," he added.
In an interview with the mass-market Daily Mail newspaper, Brown said immigration had been a source of "economic, social and cultural strength for Britain," but he understood concerns about the impact of a rising population on employment, wages and the cost of housing.
"I know people worry about whether immigration undermines their wages and the job prospects of their children and they also worry about whether they will get a decent home for their families," he said.
"They want to be assured that the system is tough and fair. They want to be assured that newcomers to the country will accept their responsibilities... (and) obey all the laws."
Britain faced a shortage of doctors and nurses when Brown's Labour Party came to power in 1997, and thousands have been recruited from overseas in recent years.
"We have now done a huge amount to train a new generation of medical staff in our country," he said.
"We are now looking at how we can close the skills gap in this country so we can take occupations off the list where we need to recruit from abroad."
"Immigration will fall."