Mrs May came back from her two-week sojourn in the Alps to the news that the latest net migration figures (which rose to 333,000 in 2015, the second highest figure on record) were still running pretty much at the same rate, priming England to be number three on the population density list by 2056; also that up to three in four babies are now born to foreign mothers in certain parts of England.
She is reported to be determined to take control, which is good news, and make EU migration a priority for the Brexit negotiations. But why does she have to wait for that? There was plenty of good advice waiting on her return for her to act on – and she should – not least on David Goodhart’s many sensible suggestions set out in his recent Policy Exchange paper most of which, as he says, can be acted on NOW.
One of the first ‘obvious steps is to reintroduce work permits for everyone who doesn’t have permanent British residence or citizenship’; to treat EU citizens as we treat non-EU citizens already. Sir David Meltcalfe of the Migration Advisory Committee has advised on the same lines: all low-skilled migrants from the EU should be made to apply for work permits to reduce the pressure on housing, education and transport services – and yes even water.
Mrs May herself is said to have her focus on foreign students. Putting a brake on the equally large and still growing numbers of non-EU migrants is a problem she’s delegated to her new Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
But what are the chances of these two women acting decisively? Worse, what are the chances of their falling foul of politically correct left wing analysis of the problem also awaiting them?
The think-tank British Future would steer her and her progressive minded Home Secretary in the direction of liberality and inaction. Its report acknowledges that the Brexit referendum outcome was a “vote of no confidence” in existing immigration policies . However, on this it puts a carefully constructed spin – which boils down to the idea that people are not anti immigration after all and wouldn’t want to lose out on its advantages. They might as well have said the public has been traduced. In fact, what they really want is immigration, actually.
British Future has to agree that the British public do not have much confidence in the Government’s determination or ability to reach its net migration target of below 100,000 by 2020. But it would be wrong they say : “to confuse mistrust in the system and concerns about the pressures brought by high migration with a determination to reduce all immigration at all costs.”
How very convenient. Problem solved! We can still let everyone in and feel OK about ourselves by lowering the target bar on numbers.
I fear Mrs May may listen to, or worse fall for, this typically left liberal interpretation and unchallenging ‘solution ‘. (British Future supports ‘remain’, I would guess). But she should make no mistake the public will feel very let down if she does, nay, betrayed.
If Britain’s current immigration system is broken and “is not working for anybody,” the last way to secure public trust is to recalibrate government targets in the name of realism. The public would see that as defeatism or surrender.
If anything is a ‘definition of madness’ that would be it and what I suspect Professor David Coleman, the migration expert, means when he talks of ‘Finis Britannia’.
What the public needs see Mrs May facing up to is, as Professor Coleman states, that ‘the United Kingdom’s rapid population growth, driven by the highest immigration in its history, is destabilising, transforming its population, its environment and ethnic make-up into something quite new”. And that it is neither racist nor xenophobic to recognise this is a major social and population problem – one that needs tackling now.
Freedom of movement driven by the accession of the new East European member states since 2004 has exponentially added to Britain’s population problem. It comes on top of a non-EU migration policy that has been chaotic, too high and log jammed for years.
The combination of these two problems has created a crisis so grave that, yes, we do need a dedicated Secretary of State for Immigration and Integration as Goodhart proposes, to solve it.
Uncontrolled people chaos (the face of localities changing in front of our eyes and the social tensions arising from unmet and growing pressures on maternity services, health centres, hospitals and schools) no more favours new arrivals than it does the indigenous population.
We do need a new high level, and for once, efficient, Department for Immigration and Integration to sort it out, with all the funding, expertise and resources it needs. What’s more Mrs May must insist it co-opts the right people – Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch, Professor Coleman, David Goodhart and Sir David Metcalfe for starters. Only then is there a glimmer of a chance of controlling population numbers and planning for a successfully integrated population.