The leader of the Britain’s UK Independence party has joined the election race ahead of the May 7 poll, by unveiling his anti-EU party’s immigration policy.
Nigel Farage back-tracked on setting a cap, instead he wants to return to levels seen before the year 2,000.
He said Britain needs to regain control of its borders with a “common sense” immigration policy which would see a five-year ban on unskilled workers.
“What we want to do is to change our relationship with the European Union, take back the control of our border and put in place a positive immigration policy, one that the people of Britain will overwhelmingly support, and by that I mean we want an Australian-style point system to decide who comes to live, work and settle in the country,” announced Farage.
In Australia, migrants are required to answer questions about their skills, for which they are awarded points. At least 65 points are required for visa requests to win acceptance.
The policy also states visa applicants must be under the age of 45, in good health and with no criminal record before they are able to move to the country.
UKIP claims opinion polls consistently show immigration to be among the UK public’s top concerns.
Last year net migration – the difference between the numbers settling in the UK and those leaving was 298,000.
Analysts say Farage is making political capital out of the ruling coalition’s failure on its promise to bring that figure down.
All three leading parties have immigration policies within their manifestos. Labour has promised to “control immigration fairly”, including plans to stop cheap foreign workers replacing British staff.
The Conservatives have said the issue would be put at the heart of negotiations over Britain’s relationship with the EU ahead of an in/out referendum.