Unskilled migrants should be stopped from moving to Britain for five years, pushing net migration down below 50,000, according to a report by a pro-Brexit campaign group, Leave Means Leave.

The report is authored by Steven Woolfe, the independent MEP who left UKIP in October last year after a fight with fellow party MEP, Mike Hookem. Woolfe collapsed during a vote in Strasbourg and was taken to hospital.

The government’s target is to reduce net migration to 100,000, but today it stands at 273,000 a year.

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By GlobalData

Leave Means Leave hopes that a combination of the Australian points-based system and plans for work permits will come into force after Brexit.

A working visa would only be granted to someone with a job offer, who is sponsored by a company in the UK and has a minimum salary of £35,000 a year.

Up to 50,000 temporary work permits would be issued initially for agricultural workers, tapering off to zero by the third year.

Critics have attacked Leave Means Leave’s recommendations, arguing that the proposed ban would result in widespread skills shortages — damaging businesses and the NHS.

“Migrant workers contribute to our economy and to British culture – we should be welcoming them in the traditional spirit of British tolerance. Leave means Leave clearly don’t understand why British business relies on migrant workers,” said Anna Soubry MP, supporter of Open Britain, a campaign group which opposes a hard Brexit.

Ben Howlett, the Conservative MP for Bath agrees. He told Verdict that Woolfe’s proposals will only harm British society.

“I utterly reject the report that Stephen Woolfe has published.  The UK benefits both economically and socially from controlled  migration,” he said. “Banning unskilled migration has no economic merit and sows the politics of fear and division.  If the publisher bothered to spend any time speaking to businesses, the NHS or care sector in Bath and the West of England he would be calling for more migration into the UK not less.”

However, Woolfe insists that his proposals will not reduce the UK’s talent pool.

“This new British Working Visa System will deliver on the will of the electorate. It won’t mean pulling up the drawbridge, as we will continue to encourage the best and the brightest to migrate and settle here,” said Woolfe in a statement.

“But by introducing strict controls, an annual cap and a five-year freeze on unskilled migrants, it will reduce net migration year on year, lessen the strain on our public services and help build a more cohesive society. It will be a system fit for 21st century Britain,” he added.