Brexit BOOM: Boris Johnson vows to attract ‘world’s most talented minds’ in new visa push


It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel told businesses they have been too reliant on low-skilled cheap labour from the EU and must now start to invest in training British workers. A fast-track “global talent” visa will launch on February 20 that will speed up and simplify entry to the UK for skilled researchers. Mr Johnson said: “The UK has a proud history of scientific discovery, but to lead the field and face the challenges of the future we need to continue to invest in talent and cutting edge research.

“That is why as we leave the EU I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stand ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality.”

Around GBP300 million is also being invested in a fund for “experimental and imaginative” mathematical sciences research over the next five years as the government moves to keep Britain at the forefront of technological developments.

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  “I think we have an agreement with the UK that will go for an overarching institutional framework, where chapters and agreements are linked.”  

Downing Street said there will be no limit on the number of eligible scientists who want to use the new visa rules and applicants will not be tied to a particular job.

Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation chief executive, said the changes would help the country remain a “globally leading environment” for research and innovation.

Ministers are also looking for ways to cut the red tape around scientific research as well as how it is funded.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said leaving the EU “gives us new freedom to strengthen research” and attracting top scientists will allow the UK to become “a global science superpower”.

Latest figures show nearly half the workforce, 47 per cent, is now in a higher skilled job.

Since 2010 the biggest surge has been in professional, scientific and technical careers such as chemical engineers and architects.

Businesses have warned they will be hit by staff shortages if curbs are imposed on low-skilled workers moving to the UK after Brexit.

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But Ms Patel insisted they must focus on recruiting British workers.

“They have been far too reliant on low-skilled and quite frankly cheap labour from the EU and we want to end that,” she told Sky News.

“We think it is about time that businesses started to invest in people across the whole of the United Kingdom, that they join with us and our agenda to level up the skills, the infrastructure, the economic growth across all our regions, promote growth across the whole of the United Kingdom.”

“That is one of the key opportunities that we have when we leave the EU through the immigration system, the points based system, that we will be bringing.

“Yes, supporting the brightest and the best but also encouraging British industry to do more to invest in capital, in people, in human capital.”

Britain’s departure from the EU on Friday will mark the start of the next phase of negotiations with the bloc.

Mr Johnson will make a speech within weeks setting out the Government’s objectives for future trade relations.

The UK will push for a zero-tariff, zero-quota, ambitious trade policy in the discussions while carrying out talks with the rest of the world.

Ms Patel insisted the UK will not simply fall in line with EU rules in the future.

“In terms of divergence, we are not having alignment. We will be diverging,” she said. “We want to take control of our laws, money and our borders.”

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But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, whose job is being axed, struck a pointedly softer tone, insisting the UK would not diverge “just for the sake of it”.

He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We’re coming out of the single market, we’re coming out of the customs union. We’re not just going to diverge just for the sake of it – we need to look at where the opportunities are.”

A new commemorative 50p coin to mark Britain’s departure will enter circulation on Friday.

Mr Johnson will deliver a special address to the nation to mark the historic day and Downing Street will be illuminated with a light display designed to symbolise the strength and unity of the UK’s four nations.

Union flags will line Parliament Square and the Mall, Government buildings on Whitehall will be lit up in red, white and blue throughout the evening and a countdown clock will be projected onto Number 10’s black bricks from 10pm on January 31.

The Prime Minister will chair a meeting of his Cabinet in the north of England on the day, while he and his ministers will use this week to meet people and businesses across the UK.

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