Boris Johnson (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images).


British prime minister Boris Johnson on Friday made a specific plug for Indian scientists as part of what he says would be the Conservative Party’s controlled immigration policy for the UK if voted to power in the December 12 election.

During one of his first election campaign public question and answer sessions with the BBC, Johnson sought to reassure voters that Britain would remain open to talent from around the world after it leaves the European Union (EU) within the January 31, 2020, deadline.

“What we will have is a controlled system where we remain open to beauticians from France or scientists from India or America… we will continue to be open to the world that is subject to democratic control,” he said, in response to a question about post-Brexit migration to the country.

“We’ll make sure that everybody in every sector of the UK economy is able to attract workers from around the world, whether it’s France or anywhere else so they can come and work here I’m in favour of immigration, I’m in favour of people coming to this country; but it has put pressure on public services,” he said.

During the heated on-air interaction, Johnson vehemently defended the withdrawal agreement he had struck with the EU, which failed to clear the parliamentary threshold in time for the October 31 Brexit deadline and resulted instead in a snap General Election next month.

“The point of our deal was to allow the entire of the UK to come out of the EU whole and entire. What the EU wanted, was to offer a ‘Northern Ireland only backstop’ as they referred to, which would have kept Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and in the single market forever,” he said.

“The treaty that we’ve done with the EU, the deal that is ready to go, it says explicitly that Northern Ireland is in the UK customs territory. A Customs Union is an area with a perimeter where tariffs are charged and the tariffs that Northern Ireland will charge on goods from third countries around the world, whether that is Japan or India or wherever, will be the tariffs that the UK charges not that the EU charges,” added Johnson, who hopes to win a majority in the election in order to get that deal through Parliament.

The Labour Party has challenged that deal and plans to renegotiate with the EU if it is voted in.