In my column this week I’ve written about immigration and the inability of many, usually on the left, to have a sensible debate about it without resorting to insult and personal attacks. In my view the sensible view shared by many within the Town is that immigration has brought many benefits and the we should continue to welcome people from around the world who want to move here and make a positive contribution.
However, I do believe that uncontrolled immigration linked to EU freedom of movement rules has brought many challenges and that is why this week I voted to end it. I don’t care whether you come from: Spain, Australia, India, Mexico, Cameroon or Japan. If you want to move to our country integrate and make a positive contribution then you should be welcomed. However, as a country, I do believe we should have the ability to say “no” if we believe this is unlikely to be the case. As your MP I will continue to speak freely and I won’t be intimidated by local Labour Party members or even sections of the local media who are out of touch on the issue. If they think by twisting and distorting what I say and looking to shout me down I will go silent on these issues they have another thing coming.
Yesterday I made a speech in the House of Commons on the Immigration Bill which will end freedom of movement and allow us to put in place a points-based immigration system instead. Needless to say the Bill has my full support. Ending uncontrolled mass immigration was one of the main reasons why so many people voted to leave the EU in 2016 and I was glad to speak up in support of this yesterday.
We know in Ipswich the immense contributions of many of the people who have come from overseas to make our town their home. And under the new points-based system we will be able to continue to welcome those who love our country and have so much to offer it. Crucially though immigration must have the public’s consent and we must be able to say no to people who may not wish to come here to integrate fully into our society.
It was disappointing to see that the Labour Party voted against the Bill last night, although this perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise given they are now led by Keir Starmer who pushed Labour into backing a second referendum last year and then set out his full support for bringing freedom of movement back after Brexit during the Labour leadership contest. Labour continues to show how out-of-touch it has become with millions of working-class people across the country who have legitimate concerns about mass immigration and voted for Brexit specifically because of them.
I also raised illegal immigration during my speech. While not part of this Bill, many constituents have written in about the unprecedented numbers of illegal migrants who have crossed the English Channel recently and this issue must also be tackled if we are to build up public confidence in our borders. More people who break our laws to come here must be deported to uphold the rule of law and deter others. And I’ve called on the Government to introduce tougher measures over the coming weeks.