Ipswich MP: 'We need to be tougher on illegal immigration'
- Credit: PAUL GEATER
There is clearly a large disconnect between what the public in general think about the issue of illegal immigration and what policies the Labour Party believes we should be pushing for.
Leaving the nuances involved in the debate about levels of immigration aside, what is incredibly clear to me from conversations I have had with constituents of all ages and backgrounds is that there are very few people who believe there should be no process for coming into this country.
People support immigration to various degrees and there is a debate to be had about which system is best - but virtually no-one supports illegal immigration.
Why then are Labour MPs and activists so intent on undermining our laws?
The particular incident which shows this tendency of certain factions in the Labour Party came last Thursday in Glasgow, when two men were in the process of being deported by the police.
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A crowd of activists thronged the police vans and held them in a stand-off until the police were forced to release them from the van.
These activists on the ground were joined by a chorus of Labour MPs applauding them on Twitter.
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Nadia Whittome MP tweeted: "This is what solidarity looks like. When the Home Office carried out an immigration raid on two Muslim men during Eid the people of Glasgow got their neighbours released."
This was echoed by Zarah Sultana MP and Bell Rebeiro-Addy MP, to name but a few.
Each of them mentioned the fact that it was the Muslim festival of Eid. They were also joined by the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, who was the Scottish justice secretary at the time – not company I would like to keep.
Unsurprisingly, these Labour MPs jumping on the activist bandwagon had no idea what they are talking about.
Firstly, Sumit Sehdev and Lakhvir Singh, the men being taken away by the Home Office and the police were not Muslim - they were members of the Sikh community.
They were from India, a democracy which doesn’t regularly torture or persecute its citizens. Their visas had expired, with at least one having been expired as long ago as 2016.
This doesn’t exactly strike me as an example of overzealous policing of immigration.
I’m also afraid that the calls coming from these MPs and activists seem to actually come from a place of prejudice. Why else would you automatically assume someone’s religious background, or even bring it into the debate?
Not only this, but one senior Labour union leader, Howard Beckett, went on to suggest that the home secretary, Priti Patel, "should be deported" because "she is disgusting".
Priti Patel was born in London. This is an example of what to me sounds like thinly-veiled racism and demonstrates that for these activists it isn’t actually the immigration policies that matter so much as scoring political points and attacking the government.
Secondly, it seems odd to me that activists and MPs are suggesting that we should somehow suspend our laws on illegal immigration when it suits them.
We can’t have a bar on applying the law during Muslim holidays, or any other festivals for that matter.
It seems incredible and fundamentally unserious for the SNP Scottish justice secretary to even be paying lip service to this flagrant disregard of the laws of our country.
Thirdly, it is clear to me that this stance is not going to be an election winner for the Labour Party.
The public wants their politicians to be tough on illegal immigration and any party which opposes the rule of law, by supporting a mob against the police, should never be elected to power.
A 2018 Project28 poll showed that 77% of Britons agree that illegal immigration is a serious problem facing the UK.
A 2019 Ipsos poll revealed that 62% of the public say those arriving illegally via the Channel do not need to claim asylum in Britain and should be returned to France.
The views of those in Scotland vary little from those of the rest of Britain. Clearly, the Labour Party and the SNP do not understand the perspective of the people they are trying to win votes from.
And if they do understand, they are clearly choosing to ignore them. How does Labour expect to win over voters at a national or even local level when the most prominent members of their Party are appealing to a small minority of journalists and activists based in London?
We need to be much tougher on illegal immigration. Encouraging illegal migration is not compassionate and encourages vile human traffickers to take vulnerable people on dangerous journeys to get to our shores.
The other problem is that for all the time we spend processing illegal migrants who have no right to be here, we are unable to efficiently grant asylum to those who are coming from the most dangerous parts of the world experiencing the most violent and horrid persecution.
Along with the 62% of Britons, I don’t consider France to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world and so anyone who comes here illegally over the Channel should be returned as swiftly as possible.
This is why I support the home secretary’s New Plan for Immigration.
One big issue which has made it difficult in the past to swiftly remove people here illegally is the endless cycle of appeals that occur when cynical lawyers exploit loopholes to introduce new evidence for asylum.
The change being introduced is that migrants facing removal action will be required to raise all asylum and human rights claims in one go. This will mean all issues can be considered together.
New powers will mean decision-makers, including judges, should give minimal weight to evidence submitted after the 'one-stop' process, unless there is good reason. This will stop the multi-year cases and make our courts far more efficient.
Ultimately, Priti Patel wants to be tough on enforcing our laws and believes that we should have an asylum system based on need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers.
I agree with this and so does the majority of the public. I think Labour should take a lesson from this and start to listen to the public outside of their Twitter bubble.