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Ross-shire MP Ian Blackford welcomes Prime Minister's 'screeching U-turn' on migrant worker surcharge

By Hector MacKenzie

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Ross MP Ian Blackford has welcomed Boris Johnson's "screeching U-turn" on the surcharge for migrant NHS and care workers following pressure from campaigners.

Mr Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, had challenged the Prime Minister over the Conservative policy at this week’s Prime Ministers’ Questions, at which point Mr Johnson continued to defend the charge.

Mr Blackford said: “I welcome the U-turn on this cruel Tory policy. Boris Johnson should never have imposed the NHS surcharge in the first place but I am pleased to see a change of heart following pressure from the SNP and campaigners.

“We must all recognise the huge contribution that NHS and care workers make - including many from across the world who have been nothing short of heroic during this public health emergency.

“Now we need the Tory government to scrap the NHS surcharge altogether, build a fairer immigration system, and show a meaningful commitment to NHS and care workers - including paying them all at least the Real Living Wage.

“There are many lessons to be learned from this pandemic – one of them is the vital role played by all of our front line workers, including those from overseas. It’s not enough just to #ClapforCarers every Thursday night, they deserve to be properly recognised and treated with respect.”

A spokesman for Downing Street said work by officials is now under way on how to implement the change and full details will be announced in the coming days. The Prime Minister said in the House of Commons that he had been "thinking about this a great deal"and acknowledged he was a personal beneficiary of carers from abroad during his own coronavirus battle.

Local coronavirus news from Ross-shire

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