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What the public really think about immigration

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Early on in the Windrush affair it was said that the government would use the fact that a few people had been inconvenienced, or in some cases were out of pocket, to usher in a far more lenient policy on illegal immigration, and also take a more favourable view on an amnesty for the enormous numbers currently in the UK.

By their very nature illegal immigrants are clandestine and do not appear on official databases to be accurately counted. Estimates of the numbers vary wildly, so how many are here? The New Statesman estimates 650,000 whilst Migration Watch puts the figure as high as 1.1million.

Because of their illegal status these entrants cannot claim benefits, so to survive they have to work or be kept by a relative. However they are able to receive NHS treatment, and the government has sought access to medical records to root them out, which the Guardian has been rather exercised about.

There is clearly a massive problem with employers giving jobs to illegals, often at well below the minimum wage, long hours, and with sleeping accommodation in the workplace.

These arrangements mean that a bona fide British citizen does not have access to that job, so more in unemployment benefit has to be paid to an individual who could have done it. In addition, the necessary taxes and NI are not paid. Penalties for those employing illegals are paltry and even then often go unpaid, especially if the employer is a limited company which simply dissolves.

An amnesty for the illegals would cause some major problems. As the illegal worker is legitimised he or she becomes eligible for state benefits and to the state’s protection, including the minimum wage, backdated to the time the employment began. The corrupt employer will therefore be incentivised to lose these suddenly more expensive workers, and find more illegals he can exploit, thus creating a demand which illegals are only too eager to satisfy.

And thus the whole rotten circle begins again.

Listening to the metropolitan elites, anyone would think that there is a cross-party consensus to relax immigration laws and policies, and that this has widespread public support. Don’t be fooled – it has no such thing.

At the weekend The Times published a YouGov survey which showed that immigration is now the third most important issue for British voters, behind Brexit (1) and health(2), but ahead of the economy (4) and crime (5).

It also showed that only 21 per cent thought the government was too strict on immigration policy, while more than double that number, 44 per cent, believed the government was not strict enough. Fifteen per cent thought it about right and 20 per cent didn’t know.

Yet again Theresa May’s government appears massively out of touch with popular opinion, ploughing blindly ahead in a Westminster bubble which represents no one except themselves.

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Melanie Platt
Melanie Platt worked at the Home Office as a Higher Executive Officer.

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