The Home Secretary has conceded that her parents would not have been allowed into the UK under her new immigration rules.
Priti Patel attempted to dodge the question during a radio interview in which she pressed the Tory point that the UK wants to ‘take back control’ and cut ‘cheap’ labour from the EU.
Patel’s family came to the UK from Uganda in the 1960s and set up a chain of newsagents.
Their arrival was before the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by dictator Idi Amin in 1972, which saw around 60,000 move to the UK.
She was quizzed by Nick Ferrari on LBC, who drew on his father’s immigrant background and said he believed he would not be in the UK under Ms Patel’s new plan.
He told her that under the proposed rules ‘you wouldn’t be here as Home Secretary.’
Nick Ferrari challenges Priti Patel over new immigration system
She replied: ‘Yeah, but also let’s not forget we are not changing our approach to refugees and asylum seekers, which is very different to a points-based system for employment and that particular route.’
Mr Ferrari, who has Italian heritage, had told her that his father’s family were in catering and probably would not get the required 70 points to be eligible to come to the UK from January next year.
He said: ‘I don’t know if I would actually be in this country under these rules.
‘Would you, with your parents?’
She replied: ‘This isn’t about my background or my parents.’
But Mr Ferrari continued, adding: ‘But it is interesting, would they have qualified?
‘Your parents, I understand, came from Uganda and were very successful in setting up newsagents.
‘They wouldn’t have qualified, would they?’
Ms Patel went on to try to point out the new scheme would give additional points to areas that had skills shortages.
But Mr Ferrari concluded: ‘It’s very interesting, isn’t it? I wouldn’t be sitting in my studio and you wouldn’t be Home Secretary, in one of the biggest offices in the land, under your system.’
The Government has faced a backlash over its new post-Brexit immigration plans that has been billed as ‘taking back control of our borders.’
The plans are the biggest chance to policy in 50 years and based on an Australian-style system, which awards points based on language skills, academic qualifications, salary and skills-shortages.
A host of business leaders have accused the Conservatives of failing to assess the impact of the reforms on the economy.
There are particular fears about what it will mean for the health care, transport and farming sectors, who rely on EU workers to function.
The proposals require each foreign worker to earn 70 points to be eligible and a set number of points for each qualification or skill.
A maximum 20 points are awarded for prospective migrants who will earn at least £25,600 and no points for those who will make the required minimum of £20,480.
Twenty points also go to people with an ‘appropriate skill level’ and another 20 for those who speak English ‘at required level’.
Britain’s current salary threshold for skilled migrants from outside the EU is £30,000.
People who have jobs ‘in a shortage qualification’ will also earn 20 points, and either 10 or 20 points for doctorate degrees in various fields.
‘Applicants will be able to “trade” characteristics such as their specific job offer and qualifications against a lower salary,’ the government has proposed.
Ms Patel has dismissed concerns about shortages, saying it is time that UK businesses invest in training some of the ‘eight million economically inactive people’ of working age in the UK.
That figure includes millions of students, people who have retired early, the long-term sick and those raising a family.