Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

The Brief: Javid’s immigration crossroads

Sajid Javid giving a speech about immigration

The Brief  is a breakdown of the forces driving the headlines, and what you can do to make a difference

Catch up About three weeks ago, the migration advisory committee published its report into immigration. They worked with pollsters and researchers to conduct one of the most comprehensive, nationwide reviews into public opinions on immigration.

What’s happening Immigration has always been an issue, but since the economic crash in 2008, it has become more visceral. The rise of Nigel Farage and UKIP was the first symptom of this, and many people see Brexit as the ultimate expression of it. The accusation by many on the right, and even some on the left, was that the political classes were happy to push forward with more immigration without consent from the public.

Our departure from the EU now brings us to a crossroads in our relationship with immigration. In his conference speech, home secretary Sajid Javid made it clear that EU migrants would not be prioritised over migrants from elsewhere. But that still leaves questions of what role we want migrants to play in the future of our economy and our country.

People are saying Jill Rutter, director of strategy and relationships at British Future, writes for Progress Online: ‘The Chequers agreement suggests that migration could be incorporated into trade deals, enabling migrants from countries with which we have secured trade deals, including the EU, to be given preferential access to the UK. Should this be the case with EU migration, there is a risk of further undermining public trust, following repeated government briefings that the new system will offer no preference to migrants from the EU.

Immigration is a national issue seen through a local lens; getting public support for the immigration that our economy needs requires engaging with public concerns, addressing local issues and promoting integration. We need to be better at encouraging migrants who work long hours to speak English – college classes do not work for this group. As we argued in the national conversation’s final report, employers could do more here.’

What’s next The are two big challenges for Sajid Javid over the next few years – should the Tories stay in government for long enough. The first is to find some political common ground on this issue before the public permanently sees the Conservatives as ideologically anti-immigration and anti-immigrants. The second, as Jill says in her piece for our website, is to translate the ‘rhetoric of a conference speech into practical action.’

I won’t be holding my breath.

Be a progressive Take a look at this new charity that is trying to protect EU citizens from unfair deportation. They’re called Here for Good and they were set up by two young law graduates who wanted to stop vulnerable EU citizens from falling through the cracks of our immigration system post-Brexit.

If you have any skills, time or money you can offer them, I’m sure it would go a long way to cleaning up this Tory mess.

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Stefan Rollnick is the editorial assistant at Progress. He tweets @StefanRollnick

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