This article appears in the latest newsletter of Migration Watch UK.
FOR almost a month now, immigration has dominated the headlines. Here’s a recap of what has happened:
November 13: Home Secretary Suella Braverman was sacked for writing an article about in the Times that had not been cleared by Downing Street. She was replaced by James Cleverly, the former Foreign Secretary.
In her resignation letter she didn’t mince her words, accusing the Prime Minister of failing to keep to the agreement they made in return for which she stepped aside in last year’s leadership contest, allowing him to be selected unopposed. The agreement included tackling runaway legal migration and going further with the ‘stop the boats’ legislation. This latter failure resulted in the Rwanda plan getting mired in the courts. You can read her resignation letter here.
November 15: The Supreme Court ruled that the Rwanda Plan was unlawful because Rwanda might return rejected asylum seekers to an unsafe country (NB, not that Rwanda itself was unsafe). The government’s response has been to bring to parliament emergency legislation (to be introduced next week) to address points made by the Supreme Court.
November 23: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Home Office released the latest immigration data. This included an astonishing revision to the net migration figure for 2022, going from 606,000 to 745,000, an increase of 140,000 or nearly a fifth. That is some revision. Meanwhile, the estimated net migration for the year ending June 2023 was 670,000. Will this figure too see a nearly 20 per cent upward revision? The Home Office data, additionally, showed that in the first nine months of 2023, the number of work visas issued had increased by 54 per cent and family visas by 117 per cent. In response, the new Home Secretary said: ‘This figure is not showing a significant increase from last year’s.’
November 28: Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said he had presented plans to cut immigration the previous year, which had been ignored [by the Prime Minister].
December 4: The government announced changes to the immigration rules which, we were told, would cut immigration by around 300,000 per year. We have been unable to work out exactly how this 300,000 reduction will be achieved. We intend to ask for clarification. While some of the proposed toughening of the rules and raising of salary levels, as well as the abandoning of the shortage of occupation list (SOL) is welcome, we doubt that they will lead to a significant reduction in net migration any time soon.
December 5: Another treaty was signed with Rwanda. This committed Rwanda not to send failed asylum seekers to unsafe countries and the UK to taking back any asylum seekers guilty of committing serious offences in Rwanda.
The Rwandan foreign minister later made clear that his country would withdraw from the deal should the UK breach global conventions – the implication being that Rwanda would pull out of the agreement if the UK withdrew from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or 1951 Refugee Convention.
December 6: New legislation was laid before Parliament which would unambiguously rule that Rwanda is a ‘safe country’ and dis-apply parts of the 1998 Human Rights Act, as well as some global rules. However, the Bill falls short of ruling out all possible routes of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. In response, Robert Jenrick resigned, stating that the proposed legislation would not work.
Mrs Braverman’s view on the proposed legislation was also sceptical. In her resignation statement she said: ‘The Conservative Party faces electoral oblivion in a matter of months if we introduce yet another Bill destined to fail.’
Let’s be clear about what the sacking of Suella Braverman and the resignation of Robert Jenrick means. A Home Secretary and her Immigration Minister, who understood the concerns of the British people on a critically important issue, say the Prime Minister and the government (of which they were a part) have failed to deliver. They also make clear that legislation and measures intended to deal with runaway legal and illegal immigration has been flawed or inadequate. Moreover, what is now being proposed is also flawed or inadequate.
What might the epitaph of a government with such a record be? What about this? ‘We knew what the people wanted and they trusted us to deliver. Fools.’