Last summer I published a plan to cut net legal migration significantly. I set out 11 clear proposals that could slash the numbers to levels the majority of the British public would be far more comfortable with.
A majority of my proposals have now been adopted by the Government. The income threshold for getting a visa here has been increased significantly. The ability for international students to bring dependents has also been curtailed. Just recently the Government announced that those coming here on Health and Care Worker visas also won’t be able to bring dependents.
The issue is that understandably people’s confidence in the system has been eroded, to such an extent that it is crucial we see the evidence and data that these new measures are significantly cutting immigration into our country. I asked the Minister today to bring that evidence to the House as soon as possible so we can prove that things are decisively heading in the right direction.
There is ample evidence that the Health and Care Worker visas and the Student visas have been abused by many. I have seen evidence of this. The solution to challenges with social care staffing should be to increase pay and increase its status. There is also a lot of evidence of poorly preforming Universities propping up their finances through the international student route. Sometimes it seems like they are selling immigration more than education.
I have and always will campaign tirelessly on this issue as I know how strongly so many of my constituents feel about it. As do I.
No one wants to stop the boats more than I do. You’d struggle to find many MPs who have raised it in Parliament as much as I have.
However, I’m also keen to ensure that we have a Bill that works. The reality is I’ve voted for two previous Bills that have not had the impact I would have liked. Yes, small boat crossings are down by a third and the Novotel has now been cleared but we’re still seeing approximately 30,000 people illegally enter our country every year and by and large stay here. This is placing significant pressure on public services, costing a fortune and raising significant issues around community cohesion. It needs to be stopped and I want to see incredibly robust action from the Government to do so.
In principle I agreed with the Bill but had and continue to have concerns about some of its shortcomings. This is why I took the action along with a number of other colleagues of abstaining during the second reading vote. We need a Bill that truly places the sovereignty of our elected Parliament at its heart and ensures that our Parliament reigns supreme. The wishes of our elected Parliament should not be stymied by foreign courts and international law and I’m concerned that as it stands, the Bill (without amendment) is vulnerable to legal challenge. This Bill represents a significant step forward but we’re not quite where we need to do be in ensuring this Bill is fully watertight.
I met with the Prime Minister earlier this week and got assurances that the Bill will be toughened up and that he will meet with myself and colleagues to ensure that the Bill is as robust as it needs to be and doesn’t have any chinks in its armoury. I took the Prime Minister’s assurances in good faith which is why I didn’t vote against the Rwanda Bill at second reading. It’s precisely because I want the Rwanda scheme to work that I have taken the stance I’ve taken. Without a significant deterrent I fail to see how we can break the back of the people smuggling gangs and end the small boat crossings scandal.
I very much hope that early next year I will feel able to fully support the Bill during its third reading. However, I will not lie to my constituents and say this is a great Bill that will achieve all of its aims when I continue to harbour the concerns that I have. It’s never easy to rebel but ultimately, it’s my responsibility to stand up for my constituents and I know how much of an issue this is for the majority of them and I’m determined we get it right.
I didn’t mix my words earlier. The latest ONS figures for net legal migration have been shocking. A big and growing chasm is opening up between where the majority of the public are at when it comes to migration and the current reality. It’s become an affront to our democracy and we now require robust and urgent action.
Last week I attended a debate at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester where I made a speech about immigration. You may have read about my speech in the local media or heard me talking about it on the radio.
Before I started my speech, someone talking about their own Town, somewhere in the north of England, said that when they walk into their Town centre, they feel like they are in a foreign country and they don’t like it. This person asked me whether it was xenophobic to feel this way. During my speech I responded to this and made my view clear. My belief is that feeling this way, in and of itself, does not make you xenophobic. If you walk into your Town centre, or City centre, on a regular basis, and come across large groups of people speaking foreign languages and or behaving in a way which isn’t in keeping with the way you’d expect people to behave in your Town centre or City centre, then it’s understandable you’d feel uncomfortable.
It has long been my belief that when you get integration, diversity can be a good thing. When new communities learn our language, make a positive contribution to the wider community and behave in a way which isn’t detrimental to the quality of life to others then it can be a force for good. However, when you don’t get integration, when people don’t make an effort to learn our language or behave in a way which is in keeping with what we’d expect, then clearly the consequences are problematic. Sadly, there are many examples of this.
It has also always been my strong belief that if you move to our country, you have a responsibility to integrate. There is of course a difference between integration and assimilation. There is no contradiction between enjoying different cultural events across the Town celebrating different traditions, be it religious and or cultural, but also wanting to live in a cohesive community with shared values and respect.
I honestly felt that what I’d said wasn’t particularly controversial. I spend large amounts of my time talking to constituents about these sorts of issues and I’m confident the majority of Ipswich residents think alike.
However, there are a number of people locally who think that immigration as a topic should never been discussed or debated. To have any concerns about mass migration, illegal migration and its impact on local communities essentially amounts to heresy. If you have the temerity to express any of these concerns, then you will be roundly condemned and smeared. We are therefore expected to pretend that every aspect of immigration over the past few decades has been an unalloyed success. Of course, most of us know that the reality is far more complex. But if you dare say this, you’re divisive and problematic. Best to pretend that everything is wonderful and there are no issues.
This has therefore led to an unhealthy disconnect between majority opinion on this issue and the prevailing views of influential people in our media, politics and civic life, both at a national level, and a local level.
The playbook with me is always the same. I’ll make a comment. And someone from the local media, will look to whip up a storm. The Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) will then wade in essentially smearing me as a xenophobe intent on stoking up racial and community tensions. The desire is to silence me and anyone else who dares express nuanced views on mass migration and its impacts on our communities.
The Ipswich and Suffolk for Racial Equality (ISCRE). I’m sure they do some good work. In fact, I know they do some good work. However, sadly as a racial equality charity, I do believe there have been many occasions where they’ve strayed too far into the political arena. Time and time again they have become embroiled in complex political debates about migration where I would describe some of their views as being at the extreme end of liberal left opinion. Last week, they issued a statement condemning my comments without even bothering to try and understand them fully. They weren’t at the debate. In fact, the statement they issued appeared to be talking about a different topic from the one I’d actually been commenting upon. If they’d bothered to contact me and establish the full facts, I could have pointed this out. Shame they didn’t.
We then had quite a bizarre news story by Paul Geater. For some reason at the end of the story he chose to mention out of nowhere that last Sunday I hadn’t attended the 25th anniversary of BSC Multicultural Services. What was the reason for doing this? What was the reason for completely out of context dropping this into the story about my comments at Conservative Party Conference? I can only be left with the conclusion that he did this to try and imply to readers that my non attendance at the event was linked to the views that I expressed at conference. That I had deliberately shunned the event for political reasons. Why else would he have completely out of context dropped this bit in at the end of the story?
Of course, the boring reality of why I wasn’t at the birthday anniversary is because, you guessed it, I was in Manchester. This was likely the last Conservative Party Conference before the General Election, and I had a range of long-standing commitments on the Sunday that needed to be fulfilled. I only found out that the BSC Multicultural Services anniversary event clashed with Conference a week or so before the event. A fact I found very frustrating. If Paul had contacted me or taken a moment to look at my local activities over the past few weeks, he would have seen that the weekend before I was at the Hindu Ganesh festival in Ipswich and a Bangladeshi wedding ceremony. But hey, why check out the facts when you can publish a misleading news story.
I feel strongly that the public have been shut out of the debate on mass migration and its consequences for too long. I answer to my constituents, no one else. And I will continue to speak directly on this issue. However, I will do so with care and sensitivity. Our country has benefited from legal migration at sustainable levels over many decades. When you get integration, we can see many benefits. However, the level of net migration is in my view too high, and we should be intolerant when it comes to illegal migration. I also think there are many occasions where we should expect more from some of the people who have recently moved here. They have a duty and a responsibility to integrate.
Within the next few days the Illegal Migration Bill will be securing Royal assent, and in doing so will become the law of the land.
All in all, I voted against 25 House of Lords amendments over the past couple of weeks. The vast majority of these amendments appeared benign, and well intentioned, but their effect would have been to severely undermine the Illegal Migration Bill and make it far less effective.
With regard to the House of Lords amendments on this vital Bill, there has been far more heat than light. We know what aspects they are against but when it comes to their own alternatives, to this workable plan for tackling dangerous small boat crossings, their amendments brought nothing but vagaries and platitudes. It was very telling that Lord Kenneth Clarke, the former very liberal Conservative Chancellor, even came out in support of the Rwanda policy, saying that the House of Lords had failed to come up with any alternative.
It’s very easy to moralise on this issue without engaging properly in its deep complexities. It’s oh so very tempting. Sadly, there have been too many who have fallen into this trap whilst coming up with no practical workable alternatives to the Illegal Migration Bill and the Rwanda plan themselves. In essence and by default, these individuals are supporters of the status quo; a status quo where we continue to see tens of thousands of people every year entering our country via dangerous small boat crossings. Breaking our asylum system and making it impossible to come up with a sensible compassionate ordered approach.
Anyway, after weeks of ‘ping pong’ the House of Lords finally bowed to the democratic supremacy of the House of Commons and the significant majorities the Bill received in the lower house.
I spoke last week in the debate. Just before we voted against 18 of the House of Lords amendments (Please watch below). Though a major step forward, to be really effective we need the Rwanda scheme to be rolled out and for that, we await the judgement of the Supreme Court later this year.
The Illegal Migration Bill places a legal obligation on the Government to detain and deport all those who illegally enter our country from other safe European countries such as France (where they failed to apply for asylum). As I’ve said countless times before, this situation is intolerable and is causing major issues for the taxpayer and local communities. I can’t see a way of us tackling this without a major deterrent, something that this Bill and the Rwanda scheme provide.
The Labour Party have time and time again, consistently and repeatedly, voted against all measures to help our country secure its borders and tackle illegal migration.
There is little point adding on here how frustrated and angry you are about this. You all know I feel completely the same way. I continue to do everything I can as an individual MP to tackle this issue. I continue to be hopeful that we will eventually “Stop the boats”, it’s just so frustrating how long it is taking. Certainly, I have become personally open to other radical options.
Ridiculous state of affairs over the weekend with those who have illegally entered our country complaining that they don’t have en-suites all to themselves at expensive central London hotels. The Government are right to make savings by making up to 4 people share a room (depending on the size of the room). Clearly, if they’re genuinely refugees escaping persecution, you’d have thought they would welcome this generosity from the tax payer.
Again, I asked for timescales for the Novotel being brought back to its proper use. We don’t have enough hotel accommodation in Town, and it will have an economic impact. Actually imagine it will become more of an issue now that Ipswich Town have been promoted. Demand for hotel accommodation associated with next seasons games will increase. I will keep on pushing as hard as I can to get a successful outcome asap. It is an unacceptable state of affairs. Government have committed to ending hotel use, but this needs to be delivered soon.
No one who comes here illegally from safe countries such as France should be able to stay here.
So far, numbers of small boats have decreased 20% between January and May this year, this is the first reduction since the small boats crisis began. Alongside, a 90% reduction in Albanian arrivals. The Albanian agreement is delivering results.
I’ve spoken a lot about illegal immigration recently. With regard to legal immigration I want us to continue to be open to the brightest and the best, but the current level of net legal migration is, in my view, far too high.
Legal migration needs to be at sustainable levels. The current levels we are seeing are unsustainable. We’ve left the EU and ended freedom of movement so there is something that can be done about it. We need to do so soon!
This isn’t just a debate about economics. The dramatic social and cultural consequences of mass migration need to be considered also. As does the consequence in terms of housing demand and pressure on public services. Ultimately this isn’t a debate the British public should be shut out of.
I’ve stressed to the Government that its critical they bring legal migration down to levels the majority of the British people are comfortable with and they do so soon.
I have no idea why international students are able to bring over dependents and I’m also concerned that this route is being abused by some.
I’ve spoken a lot recently about illegal immigration. There have been a lot of pieces in the media summarising my views and I’ve posted a lot on my Facebook page that you may have seen. However, in one place I wanted to pull together all of my views so you can fully understand them. I also think it’s fair enough to put the spotlight on my Labour opponent.
With regard to the use of the Novotel by the Home Office to accommodate illegal immigrants I’ve been extremely clear in my views. I’ve done everything within my power to oppose it.
Before it went public I attended a number of meetings with Home Office officials where I was very passionate in opposing it. I also held a special debate (Westminster Hall debate) where I went into detail in front of the Immigration Minister about all the different ways in which this was bad for our Town. Naturally, I was pleased only a few days ago to hear that we may only be weeks away from the Government bringing forward to relocate those in hotels to disused army barracks and even ferries.
Last weekend there was a protest outside the Novotel opposing its use by the Home Office. I have no idea who was there. I spoke to Suffolk Police before the protest. And I spoke to them after. They informed me the organiser wasn’t connected to the “far right”, and they said after the protest that there was no confirmation the “far right” were present at the protest. Due to other protests around the country that had got out of hand I made sure I was in frequent contact with the Police.
There was a counter protest that took place at the same time. Those who were at this protest have made a number of allegations about the far right being present at the main protest against the use of the Novotel but I’m going off the reports I get from the Police, not them.
I’m not entirely sure what these protestors were looking to achieve or why they were there. I can only assume they were there because they supported the Novotel being used by those who have come here illegally from France (having refused to claim asylum in France and other safe European countries). Accommodated at the hotel at the taxpayer’s expense. There were a number of posters opposing all national borders.
Interestingly a number of Ipswich Labour councillors were present. The Labour MP candidate was also present. I found this interesting bearing in mind that the Labour leader of the Council David Ellesmere had previously opposed the use of the Novotel.
My Labour opponent Jack Abbott since he was selected has been virtually silent on the issue of the small boat crossings and the Novotel. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have a past on the matter. Late last year a national newspaper drew attention to a number of visits Jack had made to the immigration camps in northern France. The places where people head off from to illegally enter the UK. I have no idea why he was there and it was news to me. Some have suggested that he was there actively encouraging the small boat crossings and for people to illegally enter our country. I have no evidence that this was the case.
That was many years ago though in his defence and he’s been silent ever since from what I can see. So I must confess to be pretty shocked that he decided to attend the counter protest last weekend. Bearing in mind most peoples views in Ipswich I think it was distinctively unwise. Again, his motives for being there we can’t be certain about. But I can’t blame people when they see him with a megaphone next to people calling for the end of all borders to come to the conclusion that he wants a total free for all when it comes to our borders and asylum system.
Either way, I wish he’d just be honest about his inner most views and beliefs. He owes that to his potential constituents.
On Saturday Ipswich Labour launched an attack on me for not believing them that the far right played a key role at the anti Novotel protest the other weekend. I again responded that I was simply going off the reports the Police had given me.
For me and thousands of others there is a sneaking suspicion that actually Ipswich Labour and maybe even the Labour MP candidate view anyone who holds the sorts of views I do on illegal migration and the small boats issue as being “far right”. It’s a classic tactic of the left to smear and demonise people who hold my views as being “far right” and “fascist”. They seek to cower us so we’re afraid to speak out. That will never be the case with me. I’ve sought my constituents views extensively on this issue and I’m extremely confident that not all, but the majority agree with my views and strongly oppose the use of the Novotel by those who have illegally entered our country from France.
The values divide between Ipswich Labour and many of their traditional supporters could not be clearer. It feels a bit like Brexit all over again. Let’s not forget my predecessor, Sandy Martin. Despite the fact that Ipswich voted strongly to leave the EU he thought he knew better and did everything within his power to overturn the referendum result. This almost feels like a re-run.
At a national level: Labour have voted against every single measure to tackle illegal immigration and control our borders. They would bring in uncapped “safe and legal routes” and give everyone who arrives here illegally by small boat the green light to stay.
This week the Government’s Illegal Immigration Bill will be coming back to Parliament. The Prime Minister deserves great credit for bringing forward such a bill. He’s right. If you enter our country illegally under no circumstances, should you be able to stay. You should be detained, deported and banned from ever being able to enter our country again. I know this all sounds a bit draconian but what’s the alternative? We need a powerful deterrent.
Otherwise this appalling situation where we have over 40,000 mainly men arriving here illegally every year through unsafe crossings empowering people smugglers will simply get worse and worse. The numbers will continue to escalate and its not an exaggeration to say we’ll be overwhelmed.
A number of amendments are being tabled to this Bill and I’m keeping an open mind. We can’t afford any more false dawns. We can’t have landmark Government’s policies such as a Rwanda scheme gummed up in the Courts for months on end. We need delivery. I completely understand why so many of my constituents are so frustrated by this.
There’re a couple of ironies here. Firstly, Labour supporters continuously accuse us Conservatives as being somehow xenophobic. This is despite the fact that the Home Secretary introducing the Illegal Immigration Bill and the Prime Minister both come from immigrant backgrounds. They key thing is, their families came here legally, in the correct way, and they have made positive contributions to our country. They haven’t jumped the queue and sought to break our immigration laws. Like many of those who have came from France have. Let’s not forget, a great many of them come from countries such as Albania that are 100% safe!
The other is the suggestion that I’m “anti-refugee”. This is despite the fact that the weekend my opponent was stood outside the Novotel I was at the world largest refugee camp, the Rohingya refugee camp. This has become one of my key interests. I’ve made three separate visits to the camp since becoming an MP. The majority of these refugees are women and children. They have fled directly from their homeland. For their lives! Many of the women I met have been raped. The majority have lost families and friends to butchery at the hands of their tormentors. When I asked them what their dream is? They say simply they want to return home in safety.
There is a simple reality here. There’re 100’s millions of people across the country who would like to be able to claim asylum in our country and could conceivable secure refugee status. Therefore its vital in my view that we introduce a cap. That cap should be driven by compassion and we must take our fair share but there must be a cap. If we believe there should be a cap then clearly we must talk about how we prioritise. And with that comes to the key point about the Rohingya. For every single man that illegally enters our country from France, often from a safe origin country, that is able to stay here, realistically, it limits our ability to accommodate people such as the Rohingya, who really are in the most desperate circumstances. They don’t have the ability to claim asylum in any safe country, they don’t have the ability to return home.
The truth of the matter is therefore this. I am pro genuine refugees. Very much so. By clamping down in illegal immigration we can finally introduce a compassionate but controlled asylum system. One that truly prioritises the world’s most needy and vulnerable but also one that ensures we don’t get overwhelmed. I’m confident that in time we’ll get that with the Conservative Party. With the Labour Party we’ll get a far worse version of the status quo!
In June 2016, Ipswich voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU. One of the biggest advantages of leaving the EU is the ability for the UK to control our borders again – I am committed to upholding this.
By contrast, the Labour Party – dominated by the London elite – tried to block Brexit and are now frustrating all attempts to control immigration.
As your MP, I have strongly opposed the use of the Novotel Hotel to house asylum seekers. I led a special debate in Parliament and have raised this issue every week in Parliament since the news broke. I’m appalled at the way in which some of my constituents have been treated by their employer, NOVOTEL. I’m also very worried about the impact this is having on the local economy.
Ipswich has a proud record of welcoming genuine refugees from around the world who are fleeing persecution. The Homes for Ukraine scheme has been a particularly inspirational example of this. We should be proud of being such a welcoming Town, but what’s going on at the Novotel is wrong on many different levels. We need to be tough but fair in distinguishing between those who are genuinely fleeing persecution and those who have chosen a route to illegally enter our country from another safe European country. I am committed to putting a stop to this.
The PM has announced new plans to use cheaper accommodation sites, so we can move migrants out of expensive hotels, saving the taxpayer money. We will identify a range of alternative sites such as disused holiday parks, former student halls and surplus military land, working with local authorities to ensure everyone takes their fair share.
Labour have bitterly opposed everything I’ve been looking to achieve on this issue. Labour’s London based leader has ordered Labour MPs to consistently vote against the Government’s plans to control immigration. Whether that would be through opposing the Rwanda scheme, voting against the Nationality and Borders Act, or defending freedom of movement at all costs throughout his leadership campaign. Even locally, the Labour candidate has never supported any attempt to tackle illegal immigration and instead has made multiple trips to the migrant camp in Calais. It’s clear that Labour don’t want to control immigration.
I have been one of the most vocal MPs in Parliament on the issue of tackling illegal immigration. My record speaks for itself. We cannot go back to a policy of low-wage, low-skilled uncontrolled immigration. That’s why, I would love to hear your views about immigration.