On Monday the 6th of October Theresa May delivered a speech as the Home Secretary on her views of the current state of immigration and demonstrated her determination to implement strict new policies to curb what she labelled the unbalanced influx in migration.
Mrs May began with great sympathy for the Syrian people and the trauma they are enduring, “2000 miles away, in towns and cities across Syria eleven million men women and children are forced from their homes”, only to state that the solution was not to shelter those fleeing war and oppression, but rather to send a substantial contribution of £1 billion in humanitarian aid to the neighbouring states.
However, it is on the current state of migration – what she called “the age of migration” where Mrs May showed the strongest convictions. According to the Home Secretary, the cost of migration is too high, stating that mass immigration “makes a cohesive society impossible.” However, in its 2012 study the Migration Advisory Committee, commissioned by the government concluded that, ‘our analysis of integration shows that established migrants show a high level of trust in the establishment, belonging to Britain and sharing values and expressed high levels of trust in British political institutions than native Britons.’
In her speech, the Home Secretary further said that ‘it's difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure to cope’. Yet another extensive government study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research found it: “reasonable to conclude that migrants in general are unlikely to pose a disproportionate burden on health services”, further stating that migrants who come to Britain are younger and healthier than British natives and therefore less likely to use the health services than Britons. Additionally, in their study into pressure on education it found that, “Data on school capacity indicates that many schools are under-subscribed and therefore would benefit from an increase in applications, including from migrant families,” yet did suggest that these areas may not be where migrants choose to live.
In terms of effects on housing, the vacant housing figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government confirm that there are 610,000 empty homes in England, 200,000 dwellings unoccupied for over six months, suggesting that it may be more plausible to simplify the process to accessing and opening these homes, rather than simply continue to build over priced housing.
Mrs May in her speech continued to raise other issues, claiming that, ‘thousands of people have been forced out of the labour market.’ Yet, Mrs May’s own department, The Home Office carried out a study in 2014 and affirmed that, “employment levels for UK nationals have been rising more than those of foreign nationals,” furthermore it concluded that, “there is no negative impact on wages or employment of native workers as, over time, economies find ways to adjust to a stable equilibrium.” Moreover, according to the BMA, “overseas doctors have for many years made a valuable and important contribution to the NHS, especially in key services where there has been a historic shortage of UK trained doctors. Without the support of these doctors many NHS services would struggle to provide effective care to their patients.”
Many aspects of the Home Secretary’s speech were challenged by ITV News Economics Editor Richard Edgar , included her claim that “the net economic and fiscal effect of high immigration is close to zero.” In the programme Mr Edgar found that a ‘UK study shows migrants contribute 16% more tax than Brits,’ and he further noted that the official independent watchdog, ABR state that ‘without migrant tax contribution, government debt would be 78% higher by 2062’.
Looking into the details of Mrs May’s speech it seems it was factually incorrect, but also that it was filled with contradictions. In her rhetoric she stated that, under Labour it (the asylum system) “was just another way of getting here to work,” which somehow conflicts with her previous suggestions that migrants come to Britain to live off benefits and abuse the system. Yet more striking was her justification for supporting the Gaddafi rule in Libya, “despite its many other flaws and its criminal leadership, Libya was known as Europe’s ‘forward border’. British immigration officials worked with their European and Libyan counterparts to stop illegal immigration from Africa at its source. Now the criminals smuggle people into Europe have been able to work unimpeded.” This statements appears to state that support for Gaddafi was acceptable as ‘we’ the British government had a deal with him to control his borders. It should be remembered that it was the coalition under a conservative government that set about to free Libya from a ‘criminal leader’ in Mrs May’s own words and in doing so opened up this so called Pandora’s box of criminal smugglers.
It is unsurprising then that the Home Secretary’s speech was met with much criticisms, the Institute of Director’s (IoD) Simon Walker, claimed her speech was ,’irresponsible rhetoric and pandering to the anti-migration sentiment’ he stated that, “the Home Secretary was putting internal party politics ahead of the country…. The myth of job stealing immigrant is nonsense; they fill job shortages and therefore create demand and more jobs.” He concluded that “political leaders should stop vilifying migrants and acknowledge that hugely important contribution they make to the country’s economy.”
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