BORIS Johnson’s new Cabinet has agreed to introduce a new Australian-style points-based system from January 2021, targeting the reduction of low-skilled migrant workers from abroad.

However, No 10 could not say when net migration would begin to fall. Details of the new system are expected to be published next week.

Last night, the SNP said the UK Government’s plans would “devastate Scotland” and that its focus on cutting the numbers of low-skilled migrant workers was “massively concerning”.

At the first meeting of senior ministers following the controversial reshuffle, which saw Sajid Javid resign as Chancellor, the Prime Minister told colleagues the Government was elected to improve the NHS, tackle crime and level up opportunity across the UK through investment in infrastructure, education and training and that the new One Nation Government had a “responsibility to level up and unite the country”.

One of the Government’s first measures will be to overhaul Britain’s immigration system and seek to begin to realise the Government’s long-term promise to cut levels of net migration.

The PM’s deputy spokesman said the Cabinet, after discussion, had agreed to the implementation of a points-based system, which would be “simpler and fairer” than the current one.

He explained: “It would not discriminate between countries and would return the democratic control of immigration to the British people. The PM stressed we must demonstrate that the UK is open and welcoming from talent from across the world but the new system would end reliance on importing cheap, low-skilled labour, bringing down immigration numbers overall.”

Under existing legislation, workers from the EU and European Economic Area countries can come to the UK to live or work without a visa. But Mr Johnson is keen to close the route for low-skilled migrants but short-term visas will be considered for occupations experiencing shortages.

It has been calculated the new points-based system could cut the number of low-skilled EU migrants by 90,000 per year, which would represent a 50 per cent reduction in the numbers of EU citizens who come to the UK on a long-term basis.

Last month, the Government’s independent adviser on immigration, the Migration Advisory Committee, recommended the Government should lower the minimum salary threshold for skilled immigrants by more than £4,000, from £30,000 to £25,600, to help recruit teachers and skilled NHS staff.

Asked about the possibility of a change in the salary cap, the spokesman declined to answer and said the details of the new system would be “set out shortly”.

Questioned about how migration numbers would be cut, he said the new system would enable the Government to control the number of people coming into the UK; it would, by its very nature, “provide the Government to control who comes in and out” and would end the country’s “reliance on low-skilled workers”.

Asked if there was a target and how soon migrant numbers would fall, the spokesman simply repeated that details of the new system would be set out shortly.

Pressed on whether there was discussion on any special dispensation for Scotland – the Scottish Government wants policy on immigration to be devolved – he said he would not go into the detail of Cabinet’s “wider discussion”.

But Stuart McDonald for the SNP described the Government’s approach as a “total shambles”.

He noted how the Tory Government had had 42 months to produce proposals for a new migration system but people still knew “next to nothing about what it will look like”.

Mr McDonald insisted: “Free movement is about the only bit of the UK migration system that works well; we should retain it, not scrap it.”

The MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East added: “Confirmation Boris Johnson is still intent on cracking down on so-called low skilled migration is massively concerning. From hospitality to social care, agriculture to scientific research, many key industries across Scotland will no longer have access to vital workers we desperately need.”