No job, no future. That is the simple mantra Home Secretary Theresa May is offering as part of her new demand that migrants be banned from the UK unless they have a job lined up.
May has chosen a newspaper column to attack the “broken European migration system” for the current crisis in Calais and called on EU leaders to tear up the Schengen freedom of movement rules which enable migrants to travel freely through a Europe with no frontiers.
The Home Secretary suggested she will crack down to kick out foreign students at the end of their university courses if they do not have graduate-level jobs ready to start in the UK.
The move comes after Home Office figures released last week revealed that net migration into a borderless Britain hit a staggering 330,000 last year – the worst ever recorded.
Writing in a column for the Sunday Times, May argued for a review of the Schengen agreement claiming that it is being misused by migrants. She wrote:
‘When it was first enshrined, free movement meant the freedom to move to a job, not the freedom to cross borders to look for work or claim benefits.
‘Yet last year, four out of 10 EU migrants, 63,000 people, came here with no definite job whatsoever.
‘We must take some big decisions, face down powerful interests and reinstate the original principle underlying free movement within the EU.’
The Home Secretary’s comments outstrips Cameron’s demands and will pressure the prime minister to push for more from Brussels as he renegotiates relations with the EU before the in/out referendum.
Cameron has so far demanded that benefits should only be paid to those who have been working in Britain for four years.
The heavily debated ‘Brexit’ has created tensions between the UK and Brussels bureaucrats, with EU ministers tiring of Cameron’s increasing demands. So far Mr Cameron has not won a single concession despite a spring spent shutting between European capitals.
For all that, it is also hard not to say that this late Conservative conversion to the idea of tightening immigration levels into the UK is a case of slamming the door after the horses have well and truly bolted.
May concluded her column with this warning:
‘I know many people say that our ambition to reduce migration to the tens of thousands is impossible. And I am not saying it is easy.
‘But that does not mean we should give up. If we want to control immigration — and bring it down to the tens of thousands — we must take some big decisions, face down powerful interests and reinstate the original principle underlying free movement within the EU.’
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org