Boris Johnson’s Biggest Failure So Far: Immigration | Edward Howard
During the current blunder that is the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, there has been much talk about allocating many of the inevitable refugees that are coming to the West, fleeing the Taliban’s wrath. This government has wasted no time in promising to take in 20,000 refugees, the same amount Canada is taking in. Home Secretary Priti Patel has claimed that this is doing right by ‘those who need us most in this darkest of hours’ and that Home Office staff were ‘working around the clock’ to bring people in. Some compared it to the Ugandan Asian influx of 1972, others like David Davis MP want even more than 50,000. Dissent to this decision among MPs has been rare – even though, judging by the angry responses to social media posts about it, opposition amongst the general public certainly exists.
At a time when lockdown might be about to cause a recession and a spike in unemployment, yet more mass immigration would be deeply unpopular. Considering that this government promised that the ‘overall numbers will come down’ during the 2019 general election, how can these two drastically different attitudes align? This is especially true in the case of Afghanistan, a country notoriously unstable and full of terrorism, with a people who are used to a very different way of life.
Such a betrayal on immigration shouldn’t come as any surprise, given this government’s young but very telling attitude to the issue. Johnson – like his Tory predecessors Cameron and May – promised to reduce mass immigration in a bid to secure a majority, and then did a u-turn in power to avoid negative liberal media attention. Given that Johnson’s administration – headed by a man who supports an amnesty of illegal immigrants and who told native Londoners to ‘stop moaning about the dam burst’ of mass immigration into the capital city – is seemingly trying to increase it through stealth measures and that makes it all the worse.
Although it’s a step in the right direction, there are obvious problems with the government’s much-touted ‘points-based system’. Lord Andrew Green of Migration Watch UK has done a very dense and well-written explanation on the issues here; the lack of a cap on numbers, the reduction level of skills and the salary threshold, leniency for foreign students and the requirement to first advertise jobs in the UK being abolished among other things, mean that the system is far weaker than most understand. All of this, Green warns, could leave 7 million jobs open to increased competition from migrant workers at a time when economic depression and spike in unemployment are at the door.
Other signs are also concerning here; Home Secretary Priti Patel noted in an LBC interview with Nick Ferrari that the system was developed in collaboration with businesses, who encouraged the government to make some of the most damaging changes; the removal of the immigration cap and the lowering of the salary threshold among them. Meanwhile other changes, most notably the abolition of the migrant surcharge in the NHS in response to left-wing pressure, aren’t encouraging either. It seems that while the system in theory is good, big business will dictate its terms and effects, preferring cheap labour as opposed to paying a decent wage to the average British worker, not to mention respecting their rights as well.
Meanwhile, there has been a major concession made on Hong Kong. While there’s no doubt that Britain at one time had an obligation to Hong Kong’s people – they are former colonial subjects after all – and China has definitely violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration, taking over 5 million is again reckless, given the aforementioned economic issues with the COVID aftermath, not to mention the culture clashes that will inevitably occur. Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has openly admitted that there will be ‘no quotas’ to the amount coming, leaving the UK to be possibly swamped with an amount of people five times that of the size of Birmingham. All of this is also hypocritical; if the narrative surrounding letting in the Hong Kongers was that we had a duty to them (similar to what many are saying about the Afghans now) as they were former colonists, why are others ignored? What about the Afrikaner farmers fleeing from South Africa, as they are attacked and persecuted by violent gangs and whose government and public officials cheer on the bloody violence there? What about Yemeni refugees fleeing Yemen due to the ongoing civil war there? One can only wonder what the double standard is there.
Meanwhile, during a recent budget announcement by Rishi Sunak, one of the most concerning policies he outlined is that he’ll encourage more mass immigration via a new fast track visa scheme to recruit more high skilled workers. While this initially sounds good, all it will be is an excuse to have further open borders by gaslighting the public into thinking that more high skilled workers are what we need, when in actuality British people could be used but have been passed over due to greedy companies not wanting to abide by wage and labour laws. The nursing and farming professions have been plagued with this for several years now, and there’s no indication that this will be any different. This Afghan refugee announcement also comes as the government plans to relax immigration rules to fill lorry driver shortages as well, making such rules an attack on the working class as well, as business owners try not to raise the wages of that profession to encourage more people to take it up. Some like Waitrose have at least chosen the latter option and some politicians have called on businesses to do it, so it’s not all bad.
That’s not even going in to the mass illegal immigration coming in from mainland Europe which has totalled 20,329 crossings so far with no sign of slowing down. Others on the left have downplayed the numbers, ignoring full well that the number of alleged asylum seekers coming over is 40-50K annually.
To make matters worse, while Priti Patel often talks a good game on this, she never follows it up with anything, presumably fearing an echo of the Windrush Scandal. The political establishment certainly don’t want people talking about it; the news remained completely silent on this issue until Nigel Farage sounded the alarm. For that, he had the police come around his house for supposedly violating lockdown rules, and other journalists who try to expose this scandal have been arrested by the authorities. It reeks of the government wanting this story to remain under the rug, but pressure has thankfully allowed this story to reach the surface. Whether anything serious will be done about it is yet to be seen.
More open borders for the foreseeable future will not be something the public will warm to once the socio-economic effects become clear. It will also not be electorally popular either; recent polling by Redfield & Wilton found that among the Top 3 issues that British voters say will decide their vote the next election, immigration was one of them, while a YouGov found that 53% of Tory voters had immigration as their top concern. And after the Blaritie-Cameron wave of mass immigration saw 7 million people – nearly the same as the entire populations of Turkmenistan or Paraguay – enter our isles, not to mention the failures that entailed, can you blame them?
Mass immigration and a government’s ambivalence to it has hurt parties before. No doubt it had a part to play in the electoral collapse of the Labour Party, from the 2010 GE to the 2019 GE, whereby Corbyn’s campaign took a very snobby attitude against those who objected to its open borders policy. Both UKIP and the Brexit Party threatened the Conservatives on their right over the issue. And now as we can see, there’s a real risk that much of the middle England core vote of the Conservative Party will be undermined because of this failure to act – one of the main reasons they lost their safe seat of Chesham and Amersham was because of voter concern about their beautiful countryside suburban areas being concreted over due to increased housing demand; demand that will doubtlessly go up if mass immigration continues.
Any political organisation looking at such figures would want to change course, simply for the sake of the country. Alas, that isn’t happening yet, although it could still change in the future.
Far from controlling immigration, the borders will remain open for an experiment that has never worked and never will. With all of these changes, it’s likely that instead of immigration being reduced it instead explodes, and a number of people the size of the population of Ireland or New Zealand could be in the UK before the next election comes around. Hopefully things will improve in the future, but for now it seems that this is once again a missed opportunity to tackle the biggest issue facing us at the moment, by a Conservative Party establishment more interested in pandering to the needs of its big business donors than the majority of ordinary Britons who’ve never been particularly keen on the matter.