If a point-based immigration system touted by PM Boris Johnson is introduced, the likes of Jesus would be turned down at the UK border, said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, taking a thinly-veiled jab at the idea.
“Our founder Jesus Christ was of course not white, middle class and British – he certainly wouldn’t have got a visa – unless we’re particularly short of carpenters,” said the highest ranking bishop in the country speaking at the CBI business conference in London on Monday. His tongue-in-cheek criticism of the proposed immigration system elicited laughter and a round of applause from the audience.
Johnson has been one of the most vocal proponents of the so-called point-based immigration system, under which a would-be immigrant is assigned points based on their qualifications, education, age, English language knowledge as well as whether the skills they have are in high demand in the UK.
The system, that is modeled after the Australian one, was first proposed by UK Independence Party (UKIP) ahead of the 2017 election. The idea has since been picked up by the Johnson cabinet, with the PM now saying that he would push for what he calls an “equal” immigration system to be put in place after Brexit if he wins the upcoming snap elections on December 12.
Under the current system, EU citizens don’t need a visa to work in the UK as part of a broader freedom of movement within the bloc. While Conservatives say that the proposed immigration rules would allow to cut the number of unskilled migrants, the Labour staunchly oppose additional restrictions.
Welby’s remark has sparked a torrent of reactions. Many took it rather lightly, half-jokingly suggesting that Jesus would easily meet the criteria since he possess such unparalleled skills as the ability to turn water into wine or feed 5,000 people with five loaves, for instance.
Or…that he could be a sought-after water ski instructor or that he could easily circumvented the rules by crossing the English channel… on foot.
On a more serious note, many pointed out that Welby apparently got it wrong, as under the current rules, being a minister of religion alone is a valid reason enough to be granted a visa, provided you know English.