Nadhim Zahawi has gone against his Party's line on UK immigration by warning of the risk it presents to the economy.
09 October 2012
Conservative MP lashes out at Party's UK immigration agenda
A leading Conservative backbencher has taken the Party's conference as the opportunity to speak out against the Government's harsh UK immigration changes, claiming they risk damaging an already fragile economy.
Nadhim Zahawi, the Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon and himself an Iraqi immigration, said that while UK immigration rates were too high, the measures being taken by the current Government damage economic opportunity in other areas.
The Conservative Party made reducing net migration from current levels of approximately 250,000 to the 'tens of thousands' a pre-election pledge in 2010 and have made significant changes to UK visa and immigration policy since.
Salary thresholds and application caps have been introduced while international students have had the post-study work right removed from their visa classification.
In what has been perceived by some as misguided campaign against international students, fresh visa application levels have dropped in the wake of the changes and, as Britain's international education industry is a world leader and worth several billion a year, Mr Zahawi feels the changes are counterproductive.
"It effectively pits our border policy against our growth policy," said Mr Zahawi.
The member for Stratford-on-Avon said the Government's target was a 'blunt instrument' which was being used to sensationalise the issue and justify steps that are neither necessary nor productive.
"When you boil down a set of values and principles into a single numerical figure, a target can become an end in itself rather than a means to an end," said Mr Zahawi.
"The current target is a blunt instrument. And it effectively pits our border policy against our growth policy and we are not being straight with the public about that.
"For far too long we have sort of become prisoners of the Daily Mail headline. We need to pull back from that."
Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, agrees with Mr Zahawi and says the issue is far more substantial than simple figures.
"Britain as a world leading economy needs to be able to bring in large numbers of people, whether these are students, professionals or even just workers, immigration is a necessity," said Ms Murdock.
"While there is inevitably abuse of the system which needs to be tackled, all of these immigrants, whether genuine or not, are currently being piled in together.
"The changes need to be made with a much greater consideration for context, allowing the right people to move to the UK."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.