As Theresa May forms a minority government and our Brexit negotiations finally begin, one very important issue has completely disappeared from view.
The Leave campaign would not have won were it not for the vital issue of taking back control of our borders and stopping the free movement of people. Just last week, the Office of National Statistics issued some figures for the UK’s population growth last year. They went largely ignored despite immigration consistently being the top issue for the British public over the last few years.
The figures were truly astonishing and showed the population grew by 538,000 in the year ending 2016. Despite these amazing figures, the BBC made virtually no mention of them and absolutely nobody in what is seen as ‘mainstream’ politics offered the opinion that these numbers might cause a problem. It was pretty much radio silence.
That is because no one dares to touch this subject. To even discuss immigration goes against their politically correct view of what a nice place the world should be. In many ways, the reason this story has not featured is the decline in the UKIP vote and its influence on political debate in this country.
The fact is that whenever you hear a politician bleating on about a lack of housing, the need for extra NHS cash or the crisis in our transport infrastructure, you would have thought it would not be too difficult join up the dots.
You’d be wrong. During the 2015 televised leaders debate, I made the point that we need to build a new house every seven minutes (it’s every four minutes now) in this country just to cope with the current scale of immigration. When I asked if they see a link between immigration and housing and they all said no.
This government was elected once again to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands a year
This of course defies logic, but it also demonstrates that our political class have no intention of doing anything about our immigration crisis, even when we finally leave the European Union. Fine words about ending free movement are pretty meaningless as the numbers continue to pour in. The time has come for real action on this and not more hollow words.
Perhaps even worse still was another news story over the past few weeks that gained almost no attention at all. David Wood, who was head of immigration enforcement at the Home Office until 2015, revealed that on a bad year up to 250,000 illegal immigrants either entered the country or overstayed on their visas. Yes thats right – a quarter of a million.
As the appalling casualty lists from the Grenfell Tower tragedy are published it would be a surprise if illegal immigrants were not among the number. Clues to this are already there to see as Sadiq Khan has said “people should feel confident that if they come forward and speak to the authorities, that no action will be taken” while Theresa May, speaking from the House of Commons has said “we will not use this tragic incident as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those involved”. She added “We will make sure that all victims, irrespective of their immigration status, will be able to access the services they need, including healthcare and accommodation.”
The short-term cry will be to give amnesties for illegal immigrants affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster in any way. Of course, it would be a gross and inhumane thing to expel illegal immigrants who had just lost a relative or close neighbour, but this must not be allowed to become a wider call for amnesties. Even Boris Johnson has in the past supported such a position during his time as London Mayor and during the Brexit campaign. All that amnesties do is send a signal to the rest of the world that Britain is open and that its worth taking the risk as your chances, even if caught, of getting thrown out are extremely low.
The gulf and the disconnect between the voters and politicians in Westminster has grown wider, not narrower, since the referendum
This government, albeit a minority one, was elected once again to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands a year. How they could say this with a straight face given the failed 2010 and 2015 manifesto pledges in this area is really quite beyond me.
Unless this issue is gripped, public anger will grow and we’ll have seen nothing yet when it comes to political shocks. I say this because 77 per cent of the British people want us to have proper border controls and reduced immigration levels. That isn’t going away.
The gulf and the disconnect between the voters and politicians in Westminster has grown wider, not narrower, since the referendum result last year. And however difficult or unpleasant the establishment found it as I campaigned on immigration numbers in the years leading up the referendum, unless something is done about this crisis, something very unpleasant will inevitably emerge