The leading motivator of the Brexit vote was the widespread and unaddressed concern among the British public over mass immigration. This has been wilfully obscured by many Brexit campaigners and reportage, but was unavoidably apparent to anyone on the campaign trail.
It’s why Leave.EU and Nigel Farage were far more significant players in the referendum campaign than the media and Westminster Brexiteers dare admit. It is an apparent fact that is however neither shameful nor surprising, as for at least the past 15 years uncontrolled immigration has been one of the top 3 concerns of the electorate.
A concern which has been not only ignored, but exacerbated and demeaned by governments of every colour. This rational public concern is unquestionably the result of the policies of uncontrolled immigration adopted by successive British governments over at least 3 decades.
Whilst the Labour Party gave no warning to the electorate of the levels of immigration they sought to pursue while in office, one of the main and consistent electoral pledges of the Conservative Party has been to significantly reduce immigration.
My experience of the British public is that they are almost universally open to sustainable immigration, but not mass immigration, not immigration that is uncontrolled and sees vast cultural and demographic shifts tear communities apart in the space of a few years.
It is this rich vein of concern that the Conservative Party sought to tap, and for the last three General Elections they have included as a key pledge in their manifesto the intention to ‘reduce net migration to the tens of thousands’. It is likely that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, would have voted for the Conservative Party on this basis.
Despite this, in that time immigration has remained at a level of approximately 500,000 – 700,000 people entering the country each year. Slightly more than a city the size of Manchester, and more than averagely came in under Labour.
Former Chancellor George Osborne stated upon leaving office that Cabinet Ministers in Government since 2010 had “never taken the immigration pledge seriously”. It seems Osborne was for once telling the truth, as this month Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced to Parliament that the Conservative Party were dropping their ‘tens of thousands’ pledge. A pledge that they have never come anywhere near achieving.
Our analysis suggests that, fuelled by the big corporate lobby, they plan to go far further. As part of EU membership the UK has taken part in the facilitation of freedom to study for students under the EU’s Article 7 of Directive 2004/38/EC. There has always been a separate categorisation for students outside the Schengen and regulations governing the right of EU citizens to live and work in any EU nation, as students generally do not pay into the system and would be expected to leave after the completion of study.
As we set out in our analysis this week, alongside the abandonment of its immigration target, the government has created a situation with its instructions to civil servants, proposed Brexit Withdrawal Bill, and Immigration White Paper, that would grant a migration amnesty to up to 500,000 EU students and their families, placing the potential figure at over 1 million people.
This would represent the single largest migration amnesty in British history over such a short period, without the public having a chance to vote on a concurrent manifesto supporting the proposal. It is of course likely to be accompanied by the amnesty for the entirety of the non-student EU migrant population also, which is estimated to number between 3 and 4 million, leaving the total potential amnesty and granting of citizenship rights at 4 – 5 million people.
These figures make the Blair government, who by their own admission mislead the public over immigration figures by a factor of ten, look like rank amateurs in the mass immigration business. Both a Bow Group study in 2016 and a Migration Watch study in 2018 found that currently over 80% of newly created British citizens were either foreign born, or born to a foreign parent. The influx of new citizens over the coming years will see that number rise into the 90s.
These figures are higher than anything seen in human history, and more than I suspect a nation can survive. People tend to dislike being taken for granted even more than being ignored. That is what the Conservative Party has done with millions of its voters and supporters, on the issue of immigration and countless others. When blame is being attributed for Britain’s immigration crisis, past, present and future, the Conservatives must now take the lion’s share.