Theresa May has rejected a points-based migration system from the EU. But she needs to explain her alternative and her plan
There are plenty of reasons why Theresa May’s press conference in Hangzhou, while perfectly competent in most ways, was not the most assured performance of her two-month premiership. She was, after all, attending her first top-level international summit with a group of more practised peers. She had arrived to find many of the G20 leaders in hostile and sceptical mood over Britain’s Brexit vote. She was about to have a sticky encounter over nuclear power with China’s president, Xi Jinping. She had not faced the British press since becoming prime minister. It would have taken someone with the rhinoceros hide of a Keith Vaz not to display a few nerves in such circumstances.
Yet the main reason why Mrs May found herself on the back foot on Monday was wholly political not personal. On her way to China she had told the travelling press that the points-based immigration system promoted by the Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum might not work. On Monday in Hangzhou, speaking from bitter experience from her time as home secretary, she amplified her sceptical view, saying that the trouble with points-based systems is that they take away migration control from governments by allowing people who meet the criteria to have automatic rights of entry.