Sketch: Boris Johnson solves the UK's ballerina shortage
Boris Johnson is worried Europeans have treated the UK like it’s their own country for too long, and he’s right.
For decades, Europeans have been coming over, like they have the right to. Buying things. Getting jobs. Living here and paying taxes. Repairing roads and growing food and maintaining the existence of the National Health Service.
It’s gone on for too long, frankly, and it must be stopped. We have allowed Europeans to keep our country afloat for too long. They’ve been treating this place like it’s their home – living here, fixing the place up.
And while the Tories have come in for some criticism in this campaign for refusing to engage with the media – despite the sight of David Cameron being interviewed by a tree on Sky News – Johnson did make a rare broadcast appearance to expand on the new plan.
Maybe it will be an adventure after all. Sort of like how getting lost in a sewer could be described as an adventure
As the Prime Minister explained: “I’ve said that what we want to do is bear down on migration, particularly of unskilled workers who have no job to come to and I think that’s what’s happened over the last couple of decades or more.
“You’ve seen quite a large number of people coming in from the whole of the EU — 580 million population — able to treat the UK as though it’s basically part of their own country and the problem with that is there has been no control at all and I don’t think that is democratically accountable.”
So what does it mean? And how will introducing greater complexity into the immigration system help solve things? Well, according to the PM’s post-Brexit plan, there will be various rankings of immigrants, based on how much the Tories value them as people.
Explaining his new system, Johnson said ‘unskilled workers’ would only be granted short-term visas, while ‘skilled workers’ will only be allowed to come to the UK if they have a job, and “exceptional talents” such as “violinists, nuclear physicists, prima ballerinas” would be allowed to come to the UK “simply because of what they contribute”.
Violinists, nuclear physicists and ballerinas – the widely accepted definition of the three useful skills. It’s certainly hard to argue with the idea that most of the UK’s problems over the last few years stem from a shortage of ballerinas. That’s really what has left the health service at crisis point, when you think about it. Not enough classical dance.
But of course, there will be winners and losers in the new system. Violin sales will likely skyrocket, as Europeans across the UK are forced to quit their jobs in farming or health and social care to start taking classes, while other, less critical sectors, such as food production, may suffer.
But maybe it will be fun, and if nothing else, it will be interesting to see what classically trained prima ballerinas make of working long hours in the soft fruit-picking sector. At least the borders will be more entertaining, with scores of classically-trained musicians lined up at Dover to see if they can best Michael Gove in a fiddle contest, and therefore win a passport.
That’s the new immigration system, basically. You might as well get used to it. And at least Johnson is very positive about the whole thing, with the PM using a speech, shortly after the results were announced, to claim the UK had “embarked on a wonderful adventure”.
And he could be right. Maybe we have embarked on a wonderful adventure – a wonderful adventure characterised by nuclear physicists running A&E wards and prima ballerinas taking charge of the financial services industry – though in fairness, given Bank of England projections about the effect of a no-deal Brexit, that definition of wonderful will likely depend on how much you enjoy medicine shortages and food riots. It may well be an adventure, but how wonderful it is remains to be seen.
But maybe that is too harsh on Johnson. Maybe it will be an adventure after all. Sort of like how getting lost in a sewer could be described as an adventure. Or how the guy from 127 Hours, who spent days trapped in a canyon and had to cut off his own arm to escape, had an adventure. Though in the interests of balance it's worth pointing out the situation will not be exactly the same, because in this instance there may well be less food.
But it certainly all sounds very positive. As Johnson explained: “We’re going to recover our national self-confidence, our mojo, our self-belief and we’re going to do things differently and better.”
Well, hard to argue with that, to be honest. It would be good to do things both differently and better, no doubt. But have the UK’s problems really been caused by a lack of belief over the last three years? Was it really the cold-headed realism of our politicians that got us here?
No, it was a shortage of ballerinas.