Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) have warned the Boris Johnson government’s Home Office that the “drastic” increase in immigration it is overseeing breaks promises to voters and could cost them the so-called ‘Red Wall’.
Named for a swathe of parliamentary constituencies (electoral districts) which were once a bulwark of the Labour Party — whose traditional colour is red — but flipped Conservative (Tory) in the 2019 general election to “get Brexit done”, the Red Wall is a key parliamentary power base for Boris Johnson, the first Prime Minister to win a substantial majority in the House of Commons since 2005.
Red Wall MPs, many of them Brexiteers from a more humble background than the Eton-educated Johnson and other Tory elites, are now warning that their control of the post-industrial former Labour heartlands could be short-lived, however, as the government presides over large increases in both legal and illegal immigration despite a desire to “take back control” of Britain’s borders having been a key driver of Brexit.
More than two dozen Tory MPs, Red Wallers prominent among them, have addressed these concerns to Priti Patel, the Home Secretary whose department has broad responsibility for border control and immigration, highlighting the fact that family visas have been increased by 49 per cent, work visas by 25 per cent, and student visas by 52 per cent, noting that “such a drastic increase undeniably undermines our promise to reduce immigration numbers”.
At present, their letter suggested, the government “only pays lip service to the concept of ‘control’,” insisting that “[t]rue control balances any need for high-skilled immigration with building a sustainable domestic workforce and the inevitable consequences of mass migration on societal cohesion, our housing and job markets, wage suppression and pressure on public services.”
The Home Office’s response, as quoted by The Telegraph, is not likely to reassure, asserting in characteristically wooden fashion that “[l]eaving the EU has given us control over our own immigration system” and “[t]he new points-based system delivers on a key Government commitment to put in place an immigration system which works in our national interest” — not even touching upon the reality increasing immigration before moving on to the not especially relevant question of illegal Channel crossings, which it has also failing to control despite years of tough talk.
Not Taking Back Control: Brexit Betrayal as UK Allows Record Migrant Numbershttps://t.co/FfK3lvBzwr
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 20, 2022
“Red Wall MPs were mostly elected because of Brexit and the promise to take back control, as well as to reduce immigration. Figures recently published of 2021 long term visa grants clearly show that immigration is now increasing uncontrollably, while border control is there in name only,” said Alp Mehmet, chairman of the Migration Watch UK think tank, in comments on the letter provided to Breitbart London.
“Red Wall MPs and their constituents can see what is happening, including a tripling over the past year of the rate of illegal arrivals in boats since January,” he added.
“When will global elitists see that what they want and strive for — and patronisingly claim is for the greater good — is not what the public want or voted for in 2016?” he demanded, adding that, if Boris Johnson’s government “continues to ignore the wishes of voters, fails to tighten the immigration rules and fails to get a grip on numbers, they will alienate those who gave them their support in 2019 and wave goodbye to their 80-seat majority, perhaps indefinitely.”
The Conservative Party has form for making promises about migration and not following through with them, however, with the party having pledged to reduce net immigration from “the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” under Johnson’s predecessors David Cameron and Theresa May ahead of the 2010, 2015, and 2017 general elections — never coming remotely near to meeting this target.
George Osborne, David Cameron’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and right-hand man, as well as former Bullingdon Club drinking buddy of Prime Minister Johnson, revealed after the Brexit referendum put an end to his governmental career — for the time being, at least — that the target was not met because government ministers never had any intention of meeting it, and did not actually support bringing down immigration in private.
“[N]one of [the Cabinet’s] senior members supports the pledge in private and all would be glad to see the back of something that has caused the Conservative Party such public grief,” he wrote in 2017, calling on then-Prime Minister Theresa May to ditch it altogether.
She did not, although it remained a paper promise during her premiership, and Johnson finally dispensed with it in his 2019 manifesto, with his government saying only that there would be some reduction in numbers overall — a greatly scaled back promise that is also not being kept.
What Was the Point Then? 2022 Immigration to Hit Record High Despite Brexit Clampdown Promisehttps://t.co/dNvc70mtSw
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 27, 2022