Why can’t we seem to distinguish between good and bad migration? Brexit allowed the government to do what the Leave campaign had repeatedly said it wanted: to create a points-based system which would turn away Romanian Big Issue sellers and welcome Indian surgeons. But now we have that system we don’t seem to like that either.
True, the government has failed on illegal migration. The boats continue to arrive, bringing their cargo of mostly young males, some of whom we then put up in four star hotels at vast expense. It is pretty clear that a very large proportion of them are economic migrants rather than genuine refugees, yet our sluggish asylum system seems unable to deport them even when their claims are exposed as fraudulent. A depressing example was the 2021 case of failed Liverpool hospital bomber Emad Al Swealman, who had lost his asylum case years before but had been allowed to stay nonetheless as he reinvented himself as a bogus Christian in order to have another go. The failure to tackle such abuses, and the people-traffickers who enable them, is a disgrace.
Yet should we really be so worked up that net migration last year reached 745,000? The Home Office is proposing to respond to the figures by doing away with the shortage occupation list, which allows employers to bring in workers who they cannot otherwise source in Britain. Boris Johnson and Suella Braverman have both called for the salary threshold for migrants to be granted work visas to be raised from £26,000 to £40,000.
Don’t we want our industries to thrive, to have the skills they need? The real burden on the economy is Britons who have been signed off on sickness benefits, not self-supporting migrant workers earning over £26,000 a year. Raise