Diane Abbott Illegal Immigration Brain Fade

Brain fade moment for Diane Abbott, who was repeatedly unable to answer whether Labour would deport illegal immigrants on Good Morning Britain:

“All I can say to you Piers is that anybody watching the programme this morning will be surprised that you don’t want to talk about the immediate plight of the Windrush generation… The logical fallout from the state the immigration and nationality department is in is to try and work towards an immigration and nationality department which is much more fair and much more efficient and this is something I’m working on the nuts and bolts of.”

Remember when Diane was accusing Amber Rudd of not being across the details?

Khan: Give EU Migrants Preferential Treatment Over Non-EU Migrants

One of the advantages of Brexit is we can now have a fair immigration system that treats people from outside the EU the same as people from inside. Would be a shame if the government sides with the Remainers and shows a lack of ambition on this too…

Rudd Wrong About Migrant Removal Targets

Amber Rudd told the Home Affairs select committee yesterday: “We don’t have targets for removals… if you’re asking me are there numbers of people we expect to be removed, that’s not how we operate.”

Note the subtle change in line from the Home Office last night: It has never been policy to take decisions arbitrarily to meet a target.

… Repeated by Matt Hancock on the Today programme this morning: “As far as I understand it, it has never been Home Office policy to take decisions arbitrarily to meet the target.”

Because… this 2015 report sent to then Home Secretary Theresa May by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration shows: “For 2014/15 (10 full months) the Home Office set a target of 7,200 Voluntary Departures, an average of 120 per week, with the weekly target rising to 160 by the end of March 2015. For 2015/16, the annual target was raised to 12,000.”

You would have thought that, between them, the current and former Home Secretaries would know if the Home Office had migrant removal targets. Guess who is scheduled for today’s Press Gallery lunch…

May and Rudd Trying to Be ‘More Brexit Than Brexit’ on Immigration

Two pieces today express the unhappiness of Brexiters with Theresa May’s version of Brexit. Boris tells the Telegraph leaving will be “pointless” if we cannot diverge from the EU and strike trade deals with other countries, and makes the case for a “liberal” immigration policy that allows us to take “software people from Hyderabad” and “Australian paramedics” as well as skilled migrants from the EU. Fraser Nelson blasts May for pursuing “the wrong Brexit” in the Spectator, warning:

“Many Remainers genuinely believed they were engaged in a battle of ‘open’ vs ‘closed’ — and that ‘closed’ won. So as democrats, they ought to obey what they believe to be the demand of Brexit voters: clamping down on migration, sounding more tough and less liberal. This is a tragic misreading not only of the referendum result, but of public opinion today. Seeking to control immigration is not the same thing as being anti-immigrant…

Limits should be placed on unskilled labour, as is common in most countries, but skilled workers should be welcomed with open arms. There should be no more treating Australians or Indians as second class immigrants, and no more violinists deported to Massachusetts because they don’t earn enough.”

This is essentially the problem with two Remainers, May and Rudd, being in charge of the post-Brexit approach to immigration. In an effort to win the support of Brexiters, May and Rudd have overcompensated and tried to be more Brexit than Brexit, playing up to their caricature of what they think Leave voters want. A Leave Prime Minister would not have used EU citizens as bargaining chips as May did for so long. A Leave Prime Minister would not continue to favour EU migrants over non-EU migrants post-Brexit, as Brexiters fear May and Rudd will do to get a better deal. Polling by Open Europe found 56% supported continuing immigration “as long as there are controls to make sure they will contribute to our society, economy and way of life”. It is about control and fairness, not the cold approach exemplified by the Windrush scandal…

Anna Soubry Denies She Called Migrants “Thick”

Press Association has some curious Anna Soubry quotes from a fringe event on immigration yesterday. According to their report she said it is a “myth” that migrants use public services because they are “thick young men”.

“Go to Boston. Boston apparently has some of the highest numbers of migrant workers. It is a myth that these people are clogging up our social services and social housing. It is not true, because most of the people who work in Boston, to put it crudely, are thick young men. The last place you’ll find them is at the Pilgrim hospital [in Boston], apart from those that work in it.”

UPDATE: Soubry is claiming she has been misquoted by Press Association. She reckons she said “fit young men”.

UPDATE II: Here is the audio. She said “fit”.

Sounds like the PA reporter had a particularly bad conference hangover.

Caroline Flint v Clive Lewis Immigration Bunfight

This got heated when Clive suggested Caroline was racist for supporting managed migration…

Corbyn Backs “A Lot” of Continued EU Immigration

Corbyn doing his best to come to the aid of imploding Tories this morning…

Net Migration Down 81,000

Net migration was 246,000 last year, down 81,000 from 327,000 the previous year. In total 588,000 people came to the country, down 50,000 from 638,000 the previous year. Emigration was 342,000, up from 311,000 the previous year. Significant increase in EU citizens returning home…

Shami: Labour Backs Continuing Free Movement

Shami Chakrabarti didn’t really have a grasp of the detail on Ridge but she made clear Labour would not take back control of borders and would support the continuation of free movement in some form:

“We haven’t said we’d have control of free movement of people, you can’t necessarily have control… what’s important is that jobs come first, the economy comes first and that means getting tariff-free access to the single market… There’s a lot of room for negotiation about what types of free movement, what kinds of priority… It’s possible for friendly countries in and outside Europe to give priority for certain nationals.”

Not quite what they said in their manifesto… going to alienate a lot of Labour’s working class Northern vote…

May Guarantees Rights of EU Citizens From Article 50 Date

Back in February Guido told you Theresa May was considering Article 50 day as the cut-off date for EU citizens’ right to remain in the country. Well, tonight May has announced that the 3 million EU citizens in Britain on Article 50 day, March 29, can stay with access to schools, hospitals etc. The final cut off date has been left open and could be any date up to the point Britain leaves the EU, meaning it is on the table pending the rest of the negotiations. But any EU citizen here on Article 50 has the right to remain. An open and generous offer…

Labour Chaos Latest: Now Back Free Movement

As Guido reported this morning the Tories are all over the place on Brexit, though it’s worth looking at Labour’s shambles as well. On Monday Barry Gardiner and John McDonnell disagreed about staying in the single market. Today Rebecca Long-Bailey amusingly described the single market as a “moot point” and suggested she supports the continuation of free movement:

“We accept the fact that if we are going to have impediment-free access to the single market then there will have to be some element of free movement.”

Labour’s manifesto position, outlined by Corbyn during the campaign was: “clearly the free movement ends when we leave the European Union.Does Becky speak for herself or the Shadow Cabinet?

Net Migration Down 84,000

Net migration fell to 248,000 in 2016 – down 84,000 year-on-year. Immigration was estimated to be 588,000 and emigration 339,000.

Eastern European EU8 citizens have partly driven the changes with a fall in immigration (down 25,000) to 48,000 and a rise in emigration (up 16,000) to 43,000 in 2016.

UK Q1 GDP was also revised down to 0.2% from 0.3%. The ONS said a slowdown in household spending as prices rose was to blame.

Stay tuned for UKIP’s manifesto launch shortly…

UKIP and Farage Seize on Osborne Immigration Revelations

George Osborne has admitted that the Cameron government never tried to keep its promises on immigration and claimed that every senior member of the Cabinet privately opposes the Tory target on reducing net migration. Osborne makes the claims in his latest Evening Standard editorial, writing that “none of its 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”. Just like Dave’s unhelpful Brexit comments last week, UKIP are already seizing on these revelations. Nigel Farage tells Guido:

“In admitting that the Tories never planned to keep their promises on immigration, and that the Cabinet does not even support reducing migration, I suspect for once George Osborne has got something right.”

And a punchy UKIP spokesman tells Guido:

“Osborne has blown the gaff. For the last 7 years the Tories have been knowingly lying about their inability to reduce immigration. Now Amber Rudd has been passed the baton by the Prime Minister to carry on doing so. It used to be said that it was the job of the Diplomatic Service to lie for Britain. It now seems to be the job of the Home Office to lie to Britain.”

Notable that the unleashed Leave voter-bashing Osborne is using his insider knowledge of Cabinet discussions so overtly so early on in his new job. ACOBA were insistent that he must not used privileged information garnered from his time in office:

“The Committee is mindful of the potential interest the Evening Standard may have in the vast array of information you were privy to as a member of the Cabinet and as Chancellor. Whilst the Committee notes the Permanent Secretary has no concerns about the role in relation to your time as Chancellor, it is concerned that given the specific nature of the role as Editor, there is a risk that your knowledge acquired in office could provide some advantage to the Evening Standard.”    

Every Cabinet member who appears on TV will now be asked if they privately oppose this key Tory manifesto policy, just in time for tomorrow’s launch…

Soubry’s Manifesto Double Standard

Anna Soubry has repeatedly used the 2015 Tory manifesto commitment on the Single Market to support her own position that the UK should retain membership post-Brexit. This is really not as clever as she thinks it is. First, the referendum obviously gives the government a new mandate to leave the Single Market. Second, it turns out Soubry doesn’t actually care for manifesto promises when they don’t suit her. Her article for the Indy today calls for the government to drop its manifesto commitment to cutting immigration. Soubs has run on three straight Tory manifestos calling for immigration cuts. She is demanding the government sticks to the manifesto on the Single Market but breaks it on immigration – truly having her cake and eating it…

Clegg to ‘Hold Government to Account on Dramatically Reduced Immigration’

Curious that Nick Clegg has pledged to “hold the government to account over their Brexit contract with the British public”, including making sure that immigration is “dramatically reduced”. Huh? Clegg has been a vociferous supporter of free movement for years. He’s said, for example: “I want to be unequivocal: freedom of movement between EU member states is a good thing”. Just a few months ago he wrote a paper arguing it would be impossible for “control to be re-established” over immigration and for the UK economy to survive. Now he says he wants to hold the government to account on immigration being “dramatically reduced”? Did Clegg actually read that sign before he stood next to it? Wouldn’t be the first time…

“Who would be serving our coffee in Pret?”

“For anyone else here who works in London, who would be serving our coffee in Pret?” asked an audience member on last night’s question time apparently concerned about the plight of migrants. Reminiscent of Kelly Osbourne asking “who will clean your toilets?” if America cuts Mexican immigration…

Net Migration 273,000 Last Year

The key statistics:

  • Net migration 273,000 for 2016
  • Down 50,000 on 2015, this is seen as not statistically significant
  • 596,000 immigrated to the UK
  • 268,000 new EU citizens, 257,000 new non-EU citizens
  • Net migration now higher from EU than outside EU
  • 323,000 emigrated: including 103,000 EU citizens and 93,000 non-EU
  • 74,000 Romanians and Bulgarians came in 2016, highest estimate recorded
  • 104,000 arrived looking for work but without a job to go to

Net migration essentially still around that stubborn 300,000 mark…

Number 10 Considering Article 50 Migrant Cut Off Date

Theresa May has been clear she wants to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living in Britain to stay, so long as Britons abroad are given the same guarantees. The question being considered by Number 10 is the date at which this right to remain ends. Three possible dates have been looked at as a cut off point after which EU migrants’ rights are no longer guaranteed: the date of the referendum, the triggering of Article 50 and the date of exit itself. Each of these options has its difficulties.

Awarding the right to remain to new EU migrants up until the date of exit would likely lead to a surge of new EU immigration over the coming months. Thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians rushing into Britain while they still can is not going to go down well with voters. It would be gold dust for UKIP. Next week’s immigration statistics will focus minds in Downing Street.

What about using the date of the referendum? Removing the right to remain from EU citizens before we have formally begun the departure process has obvious legal difficulties. If the government backdated the right to remain to 23 June 2016, Remainers and various EU partners would kick up a fuss and there could be consequences for Britons abroad. This option is probably popular if tricky.

Some prominent Leavers like Gisela Stuart have suggested using the triggering of Article 50 as the cut off date. This has the advantage of preventing a surge, as well as being more reasonable for EU countries. It is an option being considered by Number 10. They know that the longer they leave it, the less likely it is Theresa May will be able to ease the public’s fears on immigration before the election…

Corbyn Abandons Decades-Held Belief in Free Movement

Jeremy Corbyn today vows to slash the number of EU migrant workers as he continues his Trump-inspired rebrand and abandons his decades-held belief in free movement. Corbyn will use a speech in Leave stronghold Peterborough to say: “Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens”, instead demanding “reasonably managed migration”. Jezza will pledge to “close down cheap labour loopholes” and “ban exclusive advertising of jobs abroad”, adding:

“That would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.”

This is at odds with what Corbyn believes, indeed with what he has said in the last few months. In September he told Sky News: “I don’t particularly want us to go down the road of having to have a hard border between Britain and Europe”, adding “we need to maintain that free movement”. In October the Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott insisted to the Morning Star that “Freedom of movement is a workers’ right”. Corbyn’s team have previously admitted “Jeremy is not concerned about numbers”.

A win for Labour moderates, the likes of Keir Starmer and Gerard Coyne, who have been calling for a tougher stance. The problem is that under Corbyn it is completely unbelievable. Voters know what Jezza really thinks about immigration, he polls at around 12% on the issue when compared to Theresa May…

Watson: “It’s Unfair to Ask” What Is Labour’s Immigration Policy

Tom Watson tells Sophy Ridge “it’s unfair of you to ask me” what Labour’s immigration policy is, though concedes it’s a “fair point” that no one knows what it is. […] Read the rest

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Jeremy Corbyn told by veteran Jewish MP Margaret Hodge…

“You’re a f***ing anti-aemite and a racist”

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