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Doubling charge to hire Indian professionals exposes Tory lie: Lib Dem leader

Senior Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable has criticised the new immigration plans of the Conservative Party, which are expected to hit Indians other non-EU professionals.

world Updated: May 22, 2017 18:34 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
File photo of Vince Cable speaking at a Liberal Democrats conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in September 2013.
File photo of Vince Cable speaking at a Liberal Democrats conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in September 2013.(Reuters)

Senior Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable, the business secretary in the David Cameron government, on Monday flayed new immigration plans in the Conservative Party manifesto and alleged that doubling a skills charge for hiring non-EU professionals exposed the party’s lie.

The Conservative manifesto released last week proposed to double the Immigration Skills Charge (levied from April) that UK-based employers pay to hire Indian and other non-EU professionals from £1,000 per worker per year to £2,000. 

Since the largest number of work visas is issued to Indian professionals, the charge is expected to hit their recruitment.

Cable, who was business secretary during 2010-15, said, “The Brexiteers, many members of whom are now in the cabinet, told us that leaving the European Union would mean we could be more generous to our Commonwealth partners, it is now clear that this was another Leave campaign’s lie.”

He added, “The consequences of this policy to businesses, including the multi-billion pound restaurant industry, who were already struggling to make ends meet due to strict regulation and charges, is another example of why the Conservatives have buried any claim to be the party of business.” 

One of the promises made by the pro-Brexit leaders – particularly international development secretary Priti Patel – before the June 2016 EU memorandum was to make it possible to recruit chefs from the Indian subcontinent to rescue Britain’s multi-billion pound Indian food industry.

“You don't have to accept Theresa May and (UK Independence Party leader) Nigel Farage’s extreme version of Brexit. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a more prosperous, brighter future,” Cable said.

Doubling the skills charge is among Conservative proposals to "bear down" on immigration from outside the EU. Other areas likely to affect Indians include new curbs on students and family members of British spouses.