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Artillery Row

The Conservative immigration betrayal

The Tories have delivered immigration on an absolutely unprecedented scale

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a general election last Wednesday — the day prior to dire annual net migration figures released by the ONS. Last November’s guesstimates saw a record 672,000 legal entrants added to the UK population between June 2022 – 2023. The new figure of 685,000 is being reported as a ten per cent annual decrease — but will likely be revised up, as the 2022 figure was, to 764,000. The Conservatives are haemorrhaging disillusioned voters — with ninety per cent of constituencies wanting immigration reduced, even when underestimating numbers by a factor of ten. Ministers are making noise about the economic and cultural costs of mass immigration. But have they stumbled too late upon the conclusion already blindingly obvious to the British public: that infinite immigrants are not the answer to Britain’s economic woes?

Net migration added 3.7 million people to the UK population since 2010. Between New Labour’s election and 2023, net migration ran at a hundred times that seen between 1973 – 1997. More have arrived since then than between 1066 and the Second World War. Because Blair abolished exit checks in 1998, the Home Office has no idea how many illegal migrants reside in Britain — but estimates ran as high as 1.2 million by 2017. Annual OBR and ONS projections have undercounted by hundreds-of-thousands. Despite this, the Treasury modelled minimum net migration increasing from 245,000 to 315,000 in this year’s budget. There seems to be no end in sight.

Non-EU work visas caused this increase: increasing 52 per cent from 277,000 in 2022 to 423,000 in 2023. More dependents (219,000) than workers (204,000) were imported. Most came to work in the health and social care sector: with 350,000 visas issued in 2023. However, a study of 70,000 visas issued between July 2022 – 2023 found 11,000 vacancies were filled. There has also been an increase in fraudulent qualifications: 

Although health and social care visa applications have fallen 76 per cent since January 2024, due to a ban on bringing dependents, skilled worker visa applications have risen by 50 per cent in the same four month period — nullifying the restrictions. 

Study visas are another culprit. Non-EU students received 379,000 visas in 2023, compared to 419,000 in 2022 — with as many as 25 per cent using the pathway to drop out of their course, enter the “Deliveroo economy”, and remain in the UK indefinitely. This is possible since Boris Johnson repealed a 2012 law by Home Secretary Theresa May forcing foreign students to leave the UK four months after finishing their degree. 

A ban on undergraduate and masters students bringing dependents may have halved forecasts from 450,000 to 200,000. Dependent applications have fallen 79 per cent since January 2024. Further restrictions were planned, but the Migration Advisory Committee and Sunak’s cabinet revolted — insisting there is no widespread abuse of the system, and that universities rely on foreign students for income. I might suggest to Lord Cameron and Gillian Keegan that a dependence on foreign tuition fees is a fault, not a virtue, in Britain’s university system. They share an attitude with immigration advocates at a recent debate in London’s Emmanuel Centre: one of an addict incredulous that there is no substance to substitute for his crippling heroin addiction. 

But is immigration really an economic necessity? A fortnight ago, former Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, and Neil O’Brien MP released a report cataloguing the economic costs of record net migration. Following Brexit, the composition of new arrivals changed: from mostly European (290,000) to 85 per cent (1.64 million) non-EU. Many of these are Indian (250,000), Nigerian (141,000), or MENAPTs: from the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Turkey. Only 15 per cent of non-EU arrivals in the last five years came principally to work. As studies from Denmark and the Netherlands already showed, MENAPTs and their descendents are never average net tax contributors in their lifetime. In fact, they were an annual fiscal drain of €17 billion (€8000 per person). As such, the UK’s GDP per capita growth has stagnated. 

House prices, too, have been inflated by imported demand. Bank of England chief economist Huw Pill admitted monetary policy and house building cannot keep pace with record immigration. Jenrick & O’Brien claim that immigration is the cause of 89 per cent of housing supply falling 1.34 million short of demand. Rent prices rising at the fastest rate on record is exacerbated by the fact that 67 per cent of private renting stock and 48 per cent of social housing in London is occupied by migrants. Eighteen cities the size of Birmingham will need to be built by 2046 just to accommodate new immigrants.

Why do they advise Prime Ministers to increase immigration, despite the costs and faulty modelling?

The report’s authors had a hard time finding data, because the ONS, Ministry of Justice, and Home Office are all recalcitrant to publish data on population composition, tax contributions, arrests, and sentences by national origin. Why are government departments unwilling to be transparent with the public? Why do they advise Prime Ministers to increase immigration, despite the costs and faulty modelling? 

In a new interview, I asked former Prime Minister Liz Truss why The Guardian reported she too planned to increase immigration before Conservative Party Conference. Truss candidly revealed the OBR had threatened to publish damaging economic forecasts unless she increased immigration. Given the run on the markets after the mini-budget was her undoing, there’s no doubt she was spooked. Other ministers have echoed this sentiment: feeling held hostage by “political resistance” from the permanent under-government in Whitehall. This isn’t to obfuscate politicians’ role in betraying their electoral mandate, with decades of pledging to reduce immigration “to the tens of thousands”.  As Margaret Thatcher remarked, “Advisers advise, and ministers decide”. It’s apparent that we need both more competent and courageous politicians, and to clear out the liberal ideologues infesting the civil service. 

Will immigration remain at record highs? One excuse given by Conservative ministers is that humanitarian visas from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong caused a temporary spike in admissions — 160,000 in 2022, down to 50,000 in 2023. However, Shadow Immigration Minister, Stephen Kinnock, confirmed Labour has drawn up plans for a similar scheme for Palestinains. Even if we received hundreds-of-thousands of doctors, lawyers, and engineers from Gaza, their economic value is irrelevant when they will be a detriment to the cultural cohesion of their host country. As opinion polls show, since October 7th and Israel’s retaliation, a majority Palestianians sympathise with Hamas. In the story of the Palestinian people, Britain is a villain: for establishing, arming, and supporting Israel. Not only are sheer numbers a concern for infrastructure and public services: politicians of all parties are advocating to import a population with an ethno-religious grudge against the British people.

Also excluded in the ONS stats were illegal migrants. The Rwanda Plan has become a “dead cat” strategy to distract from legal migration being twenty-five times higher; but a record ten thousand illegal migrants have invaded via the English Channel this year. Over 100,000 await processing, with 76 per cent approved for permanent residence — compared to 25-30 per cent across Europe. Accommodation costs have soared to £15 million a day. So voters should note that, when Dame Andrea Jenkyns presented research at a Parliamentary debate calculating the daily cost of illegal migration at £14.4 billion per year, only two MPs attended of their own volition. (The debate advocating for a Palestinian visa scheme was full of members from all parties only two days prior.) Rather than deport those exploiting the asylum system, the Home Office department dedicated to the task has been told to make recruitment cuts and redundancies

There is no political will to deal with mass immigration — with even Reform UK promising to “bring in half-a-million a year.” We must confront the forces manufacturing consent for mass immigration: including declining native birth rates. Rampant childlessness should not, as Labour MPs and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation insist, mean a licence to import limitless numbers of grown adults from incompatible cultures. But with stagnant wages, depleted housing stock, shambolic public services, and an unrecognisable culture, is it any wonder the indigenous population are discouraged from becoming parents? 

Politicians must get comfortable with policies such as a hard cap on migration, to ensure a net outflow of low-skill foreign workers; refusing entry to arrivals from hostile nations; preventing immigrants from claiming benefits and social housing; and deporting illegal immigrants residing in Britain. Otherwise, the demographic, economic, and cultural desolation wrought upon Britain will be irreversible.

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