PRIME Minister Theresa May was fighting for her political life last night after it emerged that she had turned down a plea from Cabinet colleagues to allow doctors from India to shore up the NHS.

The Evening Standard – which is edited by former chancellor George Osborne – revealed that three ministers asked May to lift her cap on so-called Tier 2 visas to allow in up to 100 doctors from India. Downing Street point blank refused.

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The National can reveal that May’s veto has affected Scotland’s NHS, too. Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Home Office cap on Tier 2 visas is having a profound effect on our ability to recruit and retain clinicians. A number of health boards have signalled that applications have been refused since December 2017, resulting in unacceptable delays in filling posts.

“Coupled with the very real concerns that Brexit will have a negative impact on NHS staffing levels, this is deeply concerning.

“We wrote to Home Office ministers in April to highlight the difficulties that visa refusals present to public services and businesses, and it is vital that the UK Government takes immediate steps to mitigate the negative impact of its immigration policies which take no account of Scotland’s needs.”

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Less than 48 hours after home secretary Amber Rudd’s resignation, May was being hit by wave after wave of criticism, some of it from her own supporters.

On the morning after a crucial defeat over Brexit in the House of Lords and facing a Labour victory in the English local government elections tomorrow, it began to look during the day that elements of the Tory party and their friends in the right-wing press had decided to gang up on May in what some have speculated is a plot to replace her with an avowedly hard-Brexit minister.

With the Windrush scandal still resonating – a Commons committee is demanding that all the papers be published – May’s official spokesman said: “It remains essential we have control of the immigration system and that it works in the national interest.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “If one thing has come out of this scandal, it’s that people have woken up and begun to realise what kind of country we live in, and what kind of country we want to live in.

“That conversation is a seminal moment in the whole debate about racism and race relations in Britain.”

It has also emerged that new home secretary Sajid Javid has been asked to discuss Scotland’s unique migration needs.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop wrote to him to set out the Scottish position, saying: “The economic importance of migration to Scotland cannot be overestimated. In a ‘worst case scenario’ where migration is reduced to tens of thousands, in line with UK Government policy, the cost to the Scottish economy could be £10 billion per year by 2040 – I hope you agree that scenario would be utterly unacceptable.

“We are already seeing instances where people who are either able to fill particular skills gaps in Scotland or who provide essential services in rural areas have been prevented from coming to Scotland, or faced removal or deportation as a result of targets and criteria that simply do not take account of Scotland’s needs. I look forward to an early meeting.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Secretary has received the letter and will respond in due course.”