I have a high regard for John Hayes MP, whom I have known for many years. But I fear his piece on immigration (Aug 11th) relied too much on rose-tinted spectacles and wishful thinking, rather than the facts as they are, and as the people of Lincolnshire know them. The word “complacency” springs to mind.
He says that new government rules on benefits have persuaded many British people to take jobs, and he may be right. And he adds that “the need for immigrants will decline”. That may be true, but no one has told the immigrants, and in the case of EU immigrants, there is nothing we can do to stop them. The government has made it (a little) tougher for new immigrants to claim benefits, but that didn’t stop the number of Romanian & Bulgarian immigrants reaching a new record — over 150,000 – in the latest data. That’s up 10% on the previous quarter, and up nearly 25% on a year ago
One in ten new jobs in Britain go to Romanians and Bulgarians. And it’s not just Romanians & Bulgarians. Immigrants from the “A8” (mainly East European low-income countries that joined the EU in 2004) are now up to 861,000, up 178,000 year-on-year. The government may think it has taken measures to slow the pace of immigration, but if so, they’re just not working.
Mr. Hayes says “We’ve made it easier to deport illegal immigrants”, but again, the government’s plans are not working. Press reports say a record number of illegal immigrants are winning appeals, being allowed to stay in Britain. Many of these people are serious and/or repeat offenders — rapists, child molesters, murderers. And they often win appeals on spurious and perverse grounds, that seem to defy common sense. The “Right to a Family Life” is over-interpreted beyond reason. We cannot resolve these problems while we are bound by the Human Rights Act, which may have been well-intentioned but has become a monster.
UKIP wants a rational immigration policy where an overall annual figure can be agreed, taking into account the needs of industry for additional skills. Within that envelope, we should be selecting precisely those skills we need. And we should be blocking unskilled people from poor countries. We should be deporting serious offenders and those who represent a danger to the public.
This is the sort of common-sense immigration policy that (for example) Australia has. We need a similar approach. But as Mr. Hayes knows perfectly well, we can’t do that as long as we’re in the EU. There is absolutely no question of Brussels “renegotiating” its Free Movement rules.