BORIS Johnson. If I ever have to talk about that man again it will be too soon. This week, after revised immigration figures were released that showed net immigration in the UK for 2022 was 745,000, an ‘upgrade’ from 606,000 reported earlier in the year (and a record 1.3million over the past two years), former Prime Minister and all-round nincompoop Johnson somehow managed to say that this was a victory for Brexit!
And these are just the net figures. As the Office for National Statistics explain here, ‘In the year ending (YE) June 2023, the provisional estimate of long-term immigration was 1.18million. This is an estimated increase of 102,000 compared with YE June 2022. Provisional estimates provide an early indication that the relatively high levels of immigration are starting to fall. In YE December 2022 immigration was estimated at 1.23 million.’ (My emphasis)
If you look at the graph in the link, the immigration numbers exploded after the end of the EU transition period and with the introduction of what the graph marks as ‘the new immigration system’. This is the new points-based system for work and student visas designed to coincide with Brexit. And who was in charge of that immigration system? Why, none other than Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister at the time. He was the one with the power.
Remind me again: was increasing immigration by these numbers promised in his manifesto? Was this what all those ‘red wall’ voters voted for? Is this why people voted for Brexit? I’m perplexed. I’m bamboozled. I am indeed flummoxed.
And now, quite unbelievably, Johnson tells us this is one in the eye for the Remainers! So immigration runs at 1.23million and it is Gotcha to the Remainers!
I must quote the former Prime Minister in the Daily Mail last week as he instructs us: ‘Look carefully at those immigration figures, and you can see much that reflects well on the UK. The numbers show, most obviously, that the anti-Brexit brigade were totally wrong about the attractions of post-Brexit Britain. They said we would become a kind of global leper, reeking of xenophobia, and that the world’s talent would stay away. Well, that was always rubbish — and these figures prove it.
‘The numbers show that motivated people across the world yearn to come to this country, and I can tell you, as a child of the 1970s – an era of decline and net emigration – that has not always been the case.
‘What these figures also show is the great humanitarian and compassionate instincts of the British people in opening up to those fleeing chaos and murder in Ukraine, or oppression in Hong Kong.
‘The immigration figures testify to this country’s amazing higher education sector, and the sheer number of brilliant young people whose families will pay very handsome fees to allow them to come here and attend the best universities in the world. All these are positive features of the immigration data; and yet we must be frank.
‘What the numbers also show is that after Brexit we underestimated the magnetic pull of the UK; and the numbers show that the British labour market is continuing to inspire large numbers of low-skilled people to want to come to work here – and for low incomes. That is a mistake. The beauty of Brexit is that we can change those incentives and address the problem in a way that is open to no other European country.’
Genius. You have to hand it to the man – he can spin a yarn. Now Johnson says, right at the end of the piece, ‘But we cannot continue with an economic system that depends entirely on fresh infusions, every year, of low-skilled and low-paid workers from around the world. Britain is the most densely populated large country in Europe.
‘Immigration has become like a Ponzi scheme, encouraging us to suck in more and more people, rather than sorting out all the reasons for UK under-productivity: skills, welfare, infrastructure.
‘It is obvious from these numbers that we were misled by the post-Covid lull, and that we set the minimum income for a general work visa way too low. It should go up to £40,000 immediately.’
All this sticking it to the EU doesn’t really work. EU countries can’t control immigration from fellow EU countries, this is true. But that is not what is driving these ridiculous immigration numbers in the UK. It is migration from outside the EU that has exploded. And the UK can control that, if it wants to, whether we are members of the EU or not. Our extremely well laid out welfare and benefit lures to the would-be and just arrived migrant are also within the UK’s remit of responsibility. Examples are here and here, making sure the newcomers miss out on nothing.
The Times pointed out on Saturday that a poll by Migration Watch UK found that two-thirds of Britons are concerned about what the current levels of immigration mean for population growth.
In fact, ‘the record level of immigration has been put down to the system introduced by Johnson in 2021 that made it significantly easier for non-European Union migrants to come to the UK to live, work and study. Before that net migration from outside the EU was 179,000 but in the year to June that rose to 768,000. EU migration now accounts for just 11 per cent of total immigration, down from 63 per cent in 2016.’
This, according to Boris Johnson, the man who presided over the scheme, the man who presided over unprecedented levels of immigration, is a great thing. It shows how fabulous the UK is. Let’s repeat Johnson: ‘The immigration figures testify to this country’s amazing higher education sector, and the sheer number of brilliant young people whose families will pay very handsome fees to allow them to come here and attend the best universities in the world. All these are positive features of the immigration data.’ (My emphasis again.)
Johnson proposes raising the minimum salary to £40,000 a year to allow people to come and work in the UK and this will solve the immigration problem. I mean, if you say so. It’s an argument, that’s for sure.
And what does the right-wing establishment do with Boris Johnson, the man who has bequeathed the UK these immigration numbers? Have they said, hang on a second, that’s not why you were voted into power? Have they said, just hold on a moment, the vote for Brexit probably wasn’t one to increase immigration figures to well over a million?
No, of course not. Boris Johnson is never held to account for his disastrous public policy decisions from lockdown to his immigration policy. Boris Johnson is never held accountable for any of his crappy behaviour. Instead, Johnson is awarded a column in the Daily Mail and a programme on the oh so tough-talking GB News.
Don’t you get the feeling that someone somewhere is having a laugh? And not only that, but it’s a laugh at your expense? Johnson, as usual, will be laughing all the way to the bank.