THE cleverest ploy of those behind the scenes at Vote Leave in the run-up to the 2016 referendum was the line ‘take back control’.
When applied to immigration, voters hoped – and believed – that this meant immigration would be reduced. Asked less than a month before the 2016 referendum what Britain’s net migration level would be after Brexit, 45 per cent of voters expected this would be below 185,000 – a figure which rose to 71 per cent when Leave voters were singled out. (The percentage who desired rather than merely expected this to be the case would, of course, have been much higher.)
Voters imagined that this might have been the case because of the rhetoric regarding ‘control’ – but, really, no such reduction was ever promised (other than, perhaps, when David Cameron suggested that levels could drop to the tens of thousands). Even Priti Patel’s pledge before the last general election that, if elected, the Conservative Party would ‘reduce immigration overall’ was a far cry from the reduction of immigration levels by almost 100,000 per annum needed to meet the expectations stated above.
The ‘Australian-style’ points-based immigration system which the government has introduced since Brexit would be far less popular if more people understood that its purpose is not to lower figures but to open up the immigration system to more people from further afield.
As Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch has pointed out, the Conservative Party’s deployment of a points-based system equates to nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
‘The new points-based system is making it easier for people from all around the world to come here to work. The skills levels, the earnings thresholds – all these have been brought down . . . There is no system at all that is in place at the moment that is really going to lower immigration and stop people coming here and being prepared to work for less money in more difficult conditions.’
His recent appearance on talkRADIO is worth watching.