Macer Hall, Express, March 24, 2015
Patrick O’Flynn said restricting entry to highly skilled professionals would be a “large and unarguable net economic positive” for the UK.
The move could improve wages and living standards for millions of households and reduce the growing pressure on the welfare system, he said.
The MEP rejected claims that immigration is always an economic benefit in a speech to Ukip supporters in Middleton, Lancs, where the party narrowly missed out on a spectacular by-election triumph last year.
It was the fourth in a series of speeches setting out the key themes on Ukip’s general election manifesto, which will be published when the official campaign kicks off next week.
Mr O’Flynn signalled a change from Ukip’s previous stance that slower economic growth resulting from reducing annual net migration is a price worth paying for better social cohesion.
The party’s economics spokesman also sketched out Ukip pledges to cut income tax for low and middle-income households and scrap inheritance tax.
And he said billions of pounds of extra cash could be found for defence, schools, police and cutting the deficit by ending payments to the EU, reducing foreign aid spending from around £12billion to £2billion a year and scrapping “vanity projects” such as the proposed high-speedrail link between London and the North.
Speaking at a metal components factory, Mr O’Flynn said Ukip’s plan for a five-year ban on unskilled migrants and an Australian-style points system for selecting skilled migrants could transform the economy.
“With a points system, migration could be turned into a large and unarguable net economic positive,” he said.
“Ukip can be the party to give immigration a good name again, maximising the social as well as the economic gain per new arrival admitted into the country.”
He said several leading economists had acknowledged that the massive influx of low-skilled migrants from other EU countries over the past decade had depressed wages in Britain.
He said: “Foreign nationals are imported to fill jobs at the bottom end of the pay scale.
“Even where the workers are young and single their tax contribution is likely to be overwhelmed by the added costs of public services consumption and in-work entitlements such as housing benefit.
“And as soon as the overseas workers start producing dependents the net cost to the public realm goes off the scale.”
He described calls by Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband for companies to increase wages as “a con” in an era of mass immigration.
Mr O’Flynn called for the basic income tax threshold to be raised to £13,000 and he wants a new 35 per cent rate for those earning up to £55,000 a year.
He said: “We must allow working people to keep more of the money that they earn and secondly we must put higher-paid employment within their reach.”
Mr O’Flynn said he was “proud” of Ukip’s pledge to scrap inheritance tax.
“I do not want people left fretting through their 60s and 70s that the fruits of their labours will be plundered by the state when they die and that their chosen heirs will be denied the financial nest eggs they wish to pass on to them.”
Tory sources dismissed the Ukip economic plans last night, claiming the proposed savings raise just £15.8billion over a five-year Parliamentary term while the tax cuts cost £21billion.