There was further evidence of the perception gap on the issue of immigration between the public and the political establishment this week. The immigration-at-all-costs priorities of our leaders was reflected perfectly in the new trade deal with India, which will allow Indian nationals have even easier access to the UK for work and study. This comes in the wake of key safeguards being abandoned and flies in the face of the government’s own manifesto pledge that ‘overall numbers will come down’. The looser arrangements for students will almost certainly encourage misuse of the student route by making it possible for those who have completed their studies to take up work even in the very lowest-paid jobs. In one fell swoop, the government have recklessly turned the clock back to a time when study visas were abused on a massive scale, particularly at our consulates in India. (See our recent paper). This is not taking back control, Prime Minister.
You may also have seen the announcement that Hollywood ‘A-listers’ and others will be granted VIP visas, allowing them to live and work in the UK as and when they choose. In reality, there’s little change to what has been happening for a long time but perhaps the government were hoping it would be a distraction from their hopelessly weak ‘points-based’ system that we have pointed to in previous emails. Forgive us for saying this again but removing the vital annual cap on work permits is a major blunder.
Regardless of the spin and tough(ish) talk of cracking down on asylum abuse and taking back control, the government seems only interested in pleasing big business. And now, it seems, also trendy celebs. What a shame they appear less keen to keep promises made to those who voted for them.
Blog of the week
How often have we heard recently that post-Brexit and dominance of Covid, the British people no longer view high immigration as a problem? Concerns about Covid, economic uncertainty and even crime have, of course, dominated the headlines, while immigration – on the rare occasions when it has been covered in the media – has been cast in distorted and wokish terms. Perhaps you saw the carefully and selectively edited BBC Panorama programme last Wednesday as an example of what we mean. Of course people care about immigration control and it is daft to suggest otherwise. The British Social Attitudes Survey noted: “Even those voters who think that immigration can be beneficial may still feel that Britain should have some control over who comes here.” The sad fact is, so far, we have seen little from this government that suggests they are in control of immigration or that they want to reduce it. Nearly 50,000 people have entered the UK illegally since the end of 2017. On top of which, many thousands more have simply stayed on when their leave to remain has expired or they have been refused asylum and been required to leave. As for the goings-on in the Channel (see our Tracker), well, the traffickers are simply laughing in the face of our Border Force.
These YouGov figures from mid-April 2021 tell a very different story to the one the chattering classes bang on about: 56% of British people think immigration over the last decade has been too high. Meanwhile, 24% thought immigration levels had been about right and only 7% thought they had been too low. You can read our full blog here. Do we still care about high levels of immigration? Oh yes, we most certainly do.
Migration Watch in the media
Our chairman Alp Mehmet has been in the media again this week:
‘The ease with which failed asylum seekers have been able to creep back into the UK is nothing short of a disgrace.’
Alp also wrote this piece on Nicola Sturgeon dodging the question of a future border between England and Scotland:
‘The SNP really must be called out on what its policy of re-joining the EU will mean for the border between Scotland and England – a matter the party seems determined to avoid.’
And one more reaction to this week’s media:
‘Despite the overblown rhetoric about cracking down on asylum abuse, illegal Channel crossings continue apace – about two and half times as many so far this year than came in the same period last year. Our borders remain as porous as ever. Unless we start to turn back immediately those crossing illegally, numbers will keep going up. Why does the government refuse to accept the blindingly obvious?’
Make your voice heard
Here is your weekly reminder to write to your MP and let them know how you feel about the weakening of global visa controls under the new ‘points-based’ system. What we have now is not control and will not lead to any reduction in immigration. The numbers will go up sharply and the government will not be able to do much about it. They may think that the tap once on can be turned off quickly, if necessary but history suggests otherwise. In fact, they have likely already lost control. That is what reducing education and skills requirements, enfeebling thresholds for foreign workers and removing an essential yearly cap on work permits, means. And of course, there is no longer the need for companies to prioritise British job seekers. If you are as concerned about these catastrophic mistakes, as we are, please click here in order to make your voice heard.