Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me say first of all that we on this side of the debate recognise and respect the spirit of compassion which inspires the Motion tonight. We look at the situation in Syria and are appalled. And it is natural that when we see fellow human beings in dire trouble, we want to help.
But of course the issue is numbers. Let me offer you an example. Suppose you wake up one morning and find a starving child on your doorstep. You will feed it. Suppose you find a dozen? You will do your best, and perhaps get the neighbours to rally round. But if you find half a million, you will call the civil authority. Numbers matter.
For the avoidance of doubt, let me clarify the position of my party, UKIP, on immigration. We are not opposed to immigration, and still less are we opposed to immigrants. We recognise the important contribution that immigrants have made, and must continue to make, to our culture and our economy.
But we also recognise the pressures that mass immigration places on social cohesion and social infrastructure – on schools, and hospitals, and housing. As Milton Friedman said: “You can have open borders, or free welfare — but not both”. And we know that those who suffer most from the next wave of immigrants are the last wave of immigrants.
What my Party wants is exactly what most independent countries have – a managed immigration policy which brings in the skills our country needs, and at a level which our economy and our social infrastructure can sustain.
UKIP’s immigration policy, far from being discriminatory, is actually less discriminatory than our current UK/EU immigration policy, which favours Europeans, who are broadly white, and clamps down on non-Europeans, many of whom are non-white. We want a colour-blind policy based solely on numbers and skills. I have often said that I should prefer to admit an Indian dentist, or a Chinese engineer, than an unskilled European.
But most of all, we recognise that we live in a democracy, and I trust that no one in this room has any problem with that. And we are fast reaching the limits of democratic tolerance for mass immigration. Not just in the UK, but across Europe.
In the UK and elsewhere, the liberal establishment has sought to choke off debate on immigration by screaming “racism” from the rooftops whenever the issue is raised. But those of us engaged in day-to-day politics know all too well that immigration is a huge issue on the doorstep. We in my Party claim some credit for bringing the issue into the public square. And now, virtually all UK politicians (except Jeremy Corbyn) recognise the problem.
It is neither wrong, nor racist, in a democracy, for politicians to debate the issues that matter to their voters, and we make no apology for doing so.
We see a similar paradigm-shift across Europe. In Germany, Angela Merkel adopted essentially the policy in this motion – let ’em all come – with disastrous political consequences.
It may well be that the great majority of migrants – refugees and economic migrants – are decent, law-abiding people. Yet there are enough who are not to cause real concern among indigenous populations.
Many of these migrants bring with them cultural attitudes, not least towards women and gays, which are unacceptable in Western society. The offences committed against women in Germany and elsewhere hardly bear repeating.
Some migrants bring with them the feuds and vendettas of their homelands, and expect to pursue them on the streets of European cities. And a few – but a very dangerous few – will be deliberately spreading Jihad, and seeking to commit bombings and outrages in our countries.
As the public see this, as they see the overcrowding and pressure caused by sheer numbers, compassionate democratic consent crumbles away in the face of intractable problems.
I should like briefly to discuss one country – not Germany – which also adopted a policy of universal welcome. Sweden has always prided itself on its generous and liberal attitude towards migrants.
If it was difficult to discuss immigration here in the UK, in Sweden it was practically The Sin against the Holy Ghost. Those who dared put their heads above the parapet, like our colleagues from the Swedish Democrats, was howled down and denied media access.
Yet in 2015, Sweden accepted 30 per cent more migrants pro-rata than Germany.
I recently saw pictures in social media of cars burning in Malmö. So in our Group meeting in Brussels, I expressed my sympathy to Swedish MEP Peter Lundgren for the outrage. I was astonished by his response. “Which outrage?”, he asked. “The riots in Malmö” I replied. “Oh that”, he said. “But it is happening all the time in Sweden”.
The attitudes of acute political correctness survive. Swedish media are reluctant to report riots and offences involving migrants. Swedish police are reluctant to pursue illegals, lest it seem inhumane. The authorities allowed 35,000 so-called “children” to enter Sweden in 2015 with no age checks – though it was widely believed that a significant proportion were young adults seeking to benefit from children’s favourable terms.
In 2015 the Municipality of Malmö received and registered 15,000 unaccompanied minors (or claimed minors) – more than the whole of Germany accepted.
Sweden now has 55 “No Go Zones” where access for the police, the fire and rescue services, and even the postal service is severely curtailed, and some residents seek to impose Sharia law.
Healthcare, dental care, housing and schooling are under huge pressure. Migrants receive healthcare on better terms than citizens, causing great resentment.
But of course the Swedish people are not fools. Despite establishment attempts to keep a lid on the issue, we see the Swedish Democrats leading the opinion polls, while other parties reluctantly scramble to adopt parts of the Swedish Democrats’ programme.
In Germany as in Sweden, we see that an open-door policy lacks democratic consent. It cannot be sustained, whether we want it or not.
Mr. President: it’s not my remit to defend the Conservative government, but I have to say that I think their policy of discouraging mass migration by helping to fund resettlement camps in the Middle East is far preferable to an open-door policy. An open-door policy is simply unsustainable if Mrs. Lumsden in Gasworks Row, and millions of others like her, won’t stand for it. I urge the House to reject the Motion.