It is no great secret that the driving force behind the British peoples’ vote to leave the European Union last June was concern about immigration. The campaign fought by Leave.EU, Grassroots Out and UKIP amongst others, was so successful because it kept the focus of the debate on the issue of immigration, and particularly the Conservative government’s failure to reduce net migration figures.
However, it must be said that to blame the current government’s failure to tackle immigration over the last 7 years on EU membership is to unjustly excuse that government. By doing so, we risk falling into the same trap that the Eurosceptic movement has for the last 3 decades, by blaming all of the government’s failings on centralised European Union policy.
The fact of the matter is that the British government never lost control of immigration from outside of the European Union, yet it did nothing to reduce those controllable figures. Similarly, the government took no action on reducing the number of foreign students – who, incidentally, are also mostly from outside of the EEA – despite having full control over this segment of immigration.
However, during the referendum campaign of 2016, all of this was forgotten. Some equally inconvenient facts for the “leave” side were also forgotten as all of a sudden migrants from Europe were demonised as these savage creatures with whom one would not wish to encounter down a dimly lit ally. A strange paradox was created whereby migrants from Europe were held up as an exhibition for us all to observe with disgust, with each and every minor legal infringement of a migrant with a slightly Polish-sounding name was plastered across the Murdoch press every other morning.
From this, the “Global Britain” concept was born. We had supposedly neglected our “traditional allies” of the Commonwealth for the past 4 decades. All of a sudden, immigration rules were talked about as being ‘unfair to Commonwealth immigrants’. Now it seemed we were crying out to reconnect with our Indian allies and our Kenyan coffee farmers, all in the name of ‘going global’. At this point, the campaign became distinctly anti-European and quite frankly, very ugly.
And it is with this “Global Britain” concept that those on the leave side of the campaign got it all wrong and are still getting it all wrong.
The emphasis of the Brexit negotiations for many on the winning side of the debate is to end ‘freedom of movement’, a central pillar of EU membership which enables visa-free travel throughout the continent for all EU citizens. No mention is made of controlling non-European immigration, despite the fact that this is the more problematic of the two.
After all, which immigrant groups are most highly represented in honour crime statistics? Which immigrant (and their descendants) groups are the source of Britain’s ‘home-grown’ terror problem? Which immigrant groups are the most economically inactive? Which immigrant groups are grossly over-represented in rape and other sexual crime statistics?
I can assert with great confidence that the groups in question are not Dutch, German, Polish or Hungarian people. Instead we are of course talking about Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Arabs and so on.
If any sensible individual were to analyse objectively the comparison between European and non-European immigration, it would quickly become clear that European immigration is mostly beneficial to British society. Here are people who, in the main, look like us, dress like us, act like us, pray to the same God as we do and raise their children with solid values very similar to our own.
Conversely, there are immigrants from outside the European Union such as from India and Pakistan, who look different to us, have different values, pray to different Gods, have vastly different views on fundamental issues such as women’s rights and sexual emancipation and who we would not wish to have our children raised by.
Both a high level observation and a more detailed statistical analysis will find that non-European immigrants are the ones who it is imperative that we keep out of the United Kingdom. European immigrants – again, for the most part – contribute to a prosperous, hard-working nation. Why are these the people our government is trying desperately to keep out? The answer of course is that it is these people whom the Murdoch press demonised for months on end in the lead up to the referendum.
Of course, that is not to say that we should have an open door to all of Europe. We should encourage the best and brightest from all of Europe to come and settle here in England, whether they be Poles, Hungarians or Germans, but we cannot allow our country to become Europe’s ‘trash can’.
There were very real and very valid stories that surfaced during the referendum campaign of thuggish gypsies and criminal gangs (mostly from Romania) who had exploited the EU free movement rules to run prostitution rings here in England and work in the black economy. There are undoubtedly people we must keep out.
But the fact of the matter is that the real problems have come from the non-European immigrant communities. The grooming gangs, the terrorists, the honour killers; these are not Poles or Hungarians, but Pakistanis and Afghans.
The British people must stop excusing their politicians’ failure to tackle non-EU migration, simply because it isn’t convenient to the Brexit cause to point it out. Similarly, the politicians must stop pretending they are cracking down on immigration simply by keeping their pledge to withdraw Britain from the European treaties. It is with a heavy heart that one admits the validity of a certain Mr Blair’s point, who said recently that the immigration most people are genuinely concerned about is that from outside of Europe.
Of course, he’s right. Those who chanted Enoch Powell’s name in 1968 weren’t doing so as a reaction to the Yugoslav immigrants of the post-war period, but were taking a stand against coloured immigration from the Commonwealth. Those who elected BNP and UKIP MEP’s in the last decade did not do so out of a hatred for Germans, but out of recognition that mass, mostly Islamic immigration into the United Kingdom had been an unmitigated disaster.