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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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HomeDemocracy in DecayLabour sneer at Tory Rwanda policy - but they won't do any...

Labour sneer at Tory Rwanda policy – but they won’t do any better

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OUR government has, it seems, been contacting (by phone) asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected to offer them £3,000 to move to Rwanda. They will be flown there on commercial flights and be supported while they are establishing themselves in Rwanda where they will be able to work.

The excellent Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister, has accused the Prime Minister of ‘betrayal’, describing the policy as little more than ‘symbolic flights’.

This isn’t the first time such a scheme has been proposed. In fact, it’s a rerun of a New Labour buyout policy. In 2006 Tony McNulty, then Labour immigration minister, offered a £3,000 incentive for asylum seekers to leave Britain voluntarily. Interesting, therefore, that Stephen Kinnock, shadow immigration minister, described the new scheme as ‘a wheeze’, to be treated with scepticism.

There is further irony in recalling that Damian Green MP, the shadow immigration minister in 2006, who went on to be Theresa May’s first immigration minister, also expressed scepticism about the New Labour programme. He commented, ‘What is clearly driving it is that the Government has missed their target of removals for 2005 . . . they must be very worried they are going to miss it again.’

So the Labour Party have renounced a policy they once championed, while the Conservatives have embraced a policy of which they were once rightly sceptical. As Margaret Thatcher remarked at her last cabinet meeting, ‘It’s a funny old world.’

Migration Watch’s take on this? Besides it being another clear sign of desperation, Executive Director Mike Jones put it rather well when he said on TalkTV, ‘This is just an exercise in public relations and optics. They want a photo of bums on seats, on a flight to Kigali, before the next general election. But it’s not going to solve the problem.’

One final comment on Labour’s position on illegal Channel crossings. They simply don’t have a credible alternative to Conservative policies. They propose to abandon the Rwanda scheme even if it were to prove successful, go after the gangs (this is already happening), speed up processing and negotiate a ‘returns’ agreement with the European Union. Perhaps they will also come up with more ‘safe routes’ for asylum seekers? Such a package of measures will not discourage the boats. Numbers will likely shoot up.

The Safety of Rwanda Bill returns to the Commons today, so we will undoubtedly come back to the small boats crisis.

Legal Migration

THE risks to our security, the cost to the taxpayer and bogus asylum seekers all make illegal immigration newsworthy. It is of course important. We must take it extremely seriously, and we do.

However, Tom Pursglove, minister for legal migration and the border, made this statement in the Commons on Thursday (here). He explained that changes to the immigration system would mean that 300,000 dependents who were eligible to come to the UK last year can no longer do so. On top of this, salary thresholds for family visas will first increase to £29,000 on April 11, then to around £34,500 at an unspecified time later this year, and finally to around £38,700 ‘by early 2025’. Meanwhile, the 20 per cent going-rate discount for jobs on the Shortage Occupation List will be removed.

There are other sensible, if belated, measures, and Migration Watch broadly welcomes them. But these tighter measures should have been in place when the points-based system was introduced on January 1 2021. The massive surge in net migration to three-quarters of a million in 2022 was only too foreseeable and Migration Watch warned it would happen as far back as 2018 when Sir Sajid Javid, as Home Secretary, instigated his flaky White Paper consultation process. We say ‘flaky’ because well over 100 of those taking part (‘stakeholders’, as they were called) were mainly loose-control, high-immigration enthusiasts and activists. As far as we could make out at the time, Migration Watch were the only Cassandras in the room.

Fraser Nelson wrote in the Daily Telegraph on February 29 that ‘the post-Brexit immigration surge was an accident’ and that the government was ‘blinded to what was going on when they began to treat faulty OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] modelling as gospel’.

Jack Montgomery, who was editor of Breitbart in the years we are talking about, posted this message on social media: ‘Fraser Nelson says the surge in immigration was “all by accident, not design”. Sadly, this is untrue; I reported four years ago on @MigrationWatch et al warning we would get this result, as the “Australian-style points-based” system has no cap. The Tories knew this would happen.’

He further posted: ‘I actually have reporting in this vein going back to 2018, before the end of the Brexit transition, when Javid was still Home Secretary. The idea that the consequences of the Tories’ post-Brexit immigration policy were unforeseen is absolutely, 100 per cent bogus.’

Going back to the latest changes to the immigration rules, will they make a difference? Possibly a marginal difference, although we won’t know until after the election. Fact is, employers and universities will have control of who they bring in. Employers still won’t have to look locally first. There is still no limit to the number of workers or students who can come. Moreover, there will still be only cursory vetting of visa applicants and no interviews in the country of origin.

Forgive us for repeating the following numbers but they are critically important and we mustn’t lose sight of them:

  • The number of foreigners granted visas to live in the UK hit a record 1.4million last year.
    ‘Net’ Migration (the difference between the number of immigrants and the number of emigrants) is now about 700,000.
  • Annual net migration of 600,000 means a population growth of 20million by 2046 (equal to about 18 Birminghams).
  • The Office for National Statistics predicts that the British population will grow by 6.6million by 2036. Shockingly, 6.1 million of this increase (92 per cent) is attributed to immigration alone (that’s roughly equivalent to adding five Birminghams to the UK in just 12 years).

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Alp Mehmet
Alp Mehmet
Chairman of Migration Watch UK, former British diplomat.

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