IMMIGRATION plans unveiled by Boris Johnson for a fast-track visa system to attract the world’s leading scientists to the UK have been branded naïve, and no replacement for a “complete overhaul”.

The Prime Minister announced the plans on Thursday, saying he wanted the UK to attract “the very best minds from around the world”, despite that being threatened by a No-Deal Brexit.

However, they came under immediate attack from Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Andre Geim, who warned of the turmoil that No-Deal would cause, adding: “Scientists are not fools. They know that turmoil is inevitable for many years.”

Emma Harrison, chief executive of migration communications hub IMiX, yesterday told The National the system should be overhauled: “While we welcome the announcement that scientists will find it easier to make the UK their home, quick fixes and exemptions are no replacement for the much needed overhaul of our immigration system.

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“The current system is costly and time consuming, it hinders business and fails families.

“If Boris Johnson wants to make Britain more ‘open and welcoming’ he’ll commit to transforming our immigration system and making it easier for people to live full and active lives here in the UK.”

Johnson’s proposals came after leading charity and research institute the Wellcome Trust, warned that a No-Deal Brexit threatened the science sector.

Its chairwoman Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller said most of its annual £1 billion support for research was spent in the UK because it had a “thriving sector”, and added: “Leaving the EU without a deal is a threat to that.”

The SNP said Johnson’s plan was a “shallow façade” that will do nothing to address Brexit damage or improve the current “toxic” immigration system.

Carol Monaghan, SNP member of Westminster’s Science and Technology Select Committee, said the plan was little more than gesture politics and would deliver a huge blow to the UK’s science sector, begging the question – will there be an adequate science sector after Brexit?

She said the Tories should focus on fixing the current toxic immigration system, including retaining freedom of movement, instead of drawing up naïve plans: “Boris Johnson’s plan is nothing but a shallow façade, and quite frankly, naïve – changing the visa system to attract top scientists to the UK is pointless if there is no adequate science sector in the UK after Brexit. The warnings raised by some of the UK’s leading names in science and research should serve as an urgent wake-up call for Boris Johnson – Scotland and the UK’s world-leading science sector is at very real risk due to his ‘do or die’ Brexit plans.

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“International collaboration, EU funding and freedom of movement have been central to the continued success of the UK’s science industry.

“That simply cannot be put at risk by a Prime Minister that is more intent on pandering to the interests of the minority Brexiteers in his party, rather than the country. Instead of gesture politics, the Tories should be assessing their shameful record on immigration and looking at overhauling the entire toxic visa system and retaining freedom of movement.

“It is imperative that Boris Johnson changes course to work constructively with our EU partners to secure a future relationship that safeguards our economy and our key sectors. Anything short of that will have a detrimental impact on the sector, relegate the UK’s standing in science and cause unmitigated damage to Scotland.”