Labour's migration plans will surrender sovereignty to the EU
Updated: Sep 19
One of the key issues that my Orpington constituents regularly write to me about is illegal Channel crossings. I share many of their justified frustrations at how our immigration system is being taken advantage of by economic migrants who have already transited through any number of safe European countries.
The Government has devoted a significant amount of Parliamentary time to this issue and succeeded in passing two crucial new laws, as well as reaching a returns agreement with Albania.
However, the Government has been challenged every step of the way by all opposition parties, and now a cadre of left-wing lawyers are seeking to overturn the clearly expressed will of Parliament through the courts.
After three years of shouting empty slogans, the Labour Party have finally set out what they would do differently – and it’s disastrous.
The centrepiece of Sir Keir Starmer’s proposal is to create an immigration free-for-all, opening up Britain’s borders under migration-sharing arrangements with Brussels.
The EU have drafted a new returns agreement whereby each member state would take an annual quota of 30,000 migrants – or pay €20,000 for every migrant they do not accept.
30,000 migrants is only the minimum – the UK could be expected to accept far more.
The Shadow Minister without Portfolio was quizzed by Sky News that the UK is 13% of Europe’s population so could accept an equivalent percentage of migrants, which would come to 182,000 per year.
Unsurprisingly, he did not have a direct answer.
Even when we were an EU member state, the UK never accepted such a burden-sharing programme.
Given that the EU’s previous migrant scheme – the Dublin III Regulation – was abandoned in the wake of the Arab Spring and mass migration through the Mediterranean, there is no guarantee that the disjointed bloc would be able to enforce this new programme, either.
Whether migration or vaccines, the Labour Party do not believe that Britain can succeed on its own.
They have also confirmed they would scrap measures in the Illegal Migration Act which ban illegal migrants from claiming asylum in Britain.
That would not only require the necessity of providing permanent housing for the 120,000 who have already arrived illegally on our shores but would also signal that Britain will reward many thousands more who seek to make the potentially fatal journey. This extra housing will need to go somewhere and, when taken with the Labour Party’s reticence to commit to protecting the Green Belt, worrying suspicions arise.
We are already facing pressures on housing supply and public infrastructure. Further burdens on this scale are almost certain to prove unsustainable.
Despite tough talk about treating smuggling gangs on a par with terrorists, this plan removes any deterrence to people seeking to enter the country illegally. Smugglers will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of Sir Keir walking into Number 10.
I acknowledge there is still much more the Government has to achieve in combatting illegal migration and there are further steps available such as a returns agreement with the EU, a renegotiation with the ECHR, as well as offshore visa processing to help genuine claimants.
But since the Prime Minister pledged to stop the boats, overall arrivals are down 20% and since our returns agreement with Albania in December 2022, there has been a 92% reduction in the number of Albanians arriving illegally. Furthermore, in recent months, Albanians who entered the UK through clandestine means have been deported within 48 hours.
We are making progress and we need to stay the course to reform our asylum system and not allow Labour’s open-door policy.