IF in trouble, pump up foreigner-fear and claim to be walloping immigration.

Those seem to be the tactics behind the Tories’ new “get-tough”, points-based immigration system, announced late on Tuesday night, because their ban on “unskilled” migrants certainly won’t do what they claim it’ll do – create a jobs boom or a wages bonanza for British workers.

From January 1, 2021, “low-skilled” migrants – earning under £20,000 a year – will not get a work visa in the UK. Only those earning more than £25,600, or more than £20,480 in a shortage occupation or with a relevant PhD, will get a permit – and they’ll have to speak English.

The end of migrant labour in the hospitality, construction, agriculture and other sectors may destroy businesses and create massive uncertainty. But the move will please Leave voters and anyone else who buys the myth of “benefits tourism” – where European migrants head for “soft-touch”, generous Britain on the pretence of coming for work, then kick off their slingbacks, sit on their backsides and wallow in luxury thanks to our massively generous and easy-to-fiddle benefits system.

Aye, right.

It meshes so little with reality, the myth of the foreign benefits scrounger is hardly worth refuting. But the EU tried with a 2013 report revealing that “mobile” EU citizens in the UK receive fewer disability and unemployment benefits than British citizens. The report also contradicted the claim that “600,000 unemployed migrants are living in Britain ... at a cost of £1.5 billion to the NHS alone”. Actually, that 600,000 is the total of economically inactive migrants – and that includes pensioners who may have lived here and contributed for decades, students and the disabled. Properly “unemployed” migrants made up just a quarter of that total. Scary headline. Much less scary reality.

But the scaremongering did its job.

And now, Priti Patel’s at it again.

Justifying her new ban on unskilled migrant labour, the Home Secretary told Sky News: “We have over eight million people ... that are economically inactive right now.”

Let’s stop that one right here. No, we don’t.

The Tories, once again, are deliberately confusing “the unemployed” with the “economically inactive”.

There were 8,478,000 economically inactive people aged between 16 and 64 in 2019 and they do indeed make up 20.5% of the population.

But roughly 2.3 million are students; 2.1 million are long-term sick; 1.9 million are carers, looking after a family member; 1.1 million are retired, and 160,000 are temporarily sick.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Tory immigration plans are ‘devastating’ for Scotland

SO according to the Government’s own statistics, only 1.9 million of Priti Patel’s 8.5 million actually wants and can handle a job, and they are carers, single parents and the long-term sick – not folk who can easily bound out to work anytime soon, without affordable childcare, decent social services and care at a level Britain will not be able to deliver, thanks to the imminent ban on “unskilled” migrant labour and the hostile environment that’s put many would-be workers off coming here in the first place.

There is no vast pool of unemployed workshy people in Britain ready to be “liberated” – the Tories have made life hell for anyone who tries to claim benefits, so Britain has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and the current “economically inactive” total Priti Patel so berates is actually “the lowest since comparable estimates began in 1971”, according to the Office of National Statistics.

So, what is going on?

Of course, attacking employers is a fairly clever move.

I’m sure some folk will applaud the notion that British employers should be making a bigger effort to “level up” the workforce and spend more time and money training British workers to fill the jobs EU workers will not now be able to take.

Strange, then, that one of the exceptions to the new migrant labour ban is the NHS – a UK Government responsibility. Could it be that whilst lambasting other employers and giving them 10 months to compete for the historically tiny number of able-bodied, available unemployed workers, Boris Johnson is letting his own Government off the hook – able to continue the “lazy habit” of recruiting from overseas while every other sector must change?

Double standards – as usual.

So, if getting British folk off the unemployment register isn’t the real reason for the migrant workers’ ban, what is?

Just another eye-catching distraction?

A roundabout way to force up wages by restricting the inward flow of migrant labour? Economists say that’s unlikely.

Passing the buck for our skinflint society to businesses? Good luck with that.

Because if sectors like elderly care can’t pull in enough motivated, skilled staff from the UK within a year, they will go bust, leaving even greater numbers of elderly patients stuck in hospital, because there’s nowhere safe for them to go. And whilst there are big criticisms to be made of some social care employers, there’s no evidence that wages and conditions will suddenly improve solely because the tap of migrant labour has been turned off.

ONE thing’s certain. Whether he meant it or not, Boris Johnson’s sudden halt to the flow of “unskilled labour” has shocked folk in Scotland – and not just “the usual suspects”. This heartless, pointless points-system will totally alienate hitherto Union-supporting sectors of the Scottish economy like farming, tourism and others.

It has already totally scunnered sentient Scots who, I’m guessing, also feel mildly revolted at the idea “worthy” workers will be weeded out from “unworthy” migrants on the grounds of their likely earning power alone. As one radio presenter boldly put it to Priti Patel, she would not even be here if her immigration rules had been in place when her father first arrived in Britain as a shopkeeper. And no, of course she didn’t answer.

Big trouble lies ahead for Boris Johnson if these proposals go ahead.

Wait till a senior Tory has an accident and emergency moment.

Wait till one of the jumpy cabinet members responsible for building a zillion new homes realises that it can’t be done without extra, migrant labour.

Wait till nurseries close and posh restaurants in Millbank have no staff.

Wait till the penny drops and all kinds of voters realise that “our” Prime Minister is willing to set aside all received wisdom on the economy, heighten hateful attitudes towards migrants and undermine every infrastructure announcement he’s just made – from HS2 to house and bus building – to look like he’s “getting tough” on immigration and to curry favour with the Brexit-voting part of the electorate.

It’s depressing beyond words, dangerous beyond anything else Boris Johnson has come up with – and maybe the very last straw for some former No voters.