Home UK Immigration DAVID BLUNKETT: Why I despair at my party throwing a lit match on the oil of immigration

DAVID BLUNKETT: Why I despair at my party throwing a lit match on the oil of immigration

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We live in extreme and inflammatory times, when passions over Brexit are at their highest and the ability to compromise seems to have deserted our political class.

Wednesday’s meltdown in the House of Commons — when debate in the Mother of Parliaments took on the appearance of a bar-room brawl — is proof of that.

So, given this febrile atmosphere, what on earth were Labour Party members doing introducing a resolution at the party conference in Brighton that throws a match on the oil of the immigration issue?

With Labour MPs unexpectedly absent in London following the sudden recall of Parliament following Boris Johnson’s defeat in the Supreme Court, members of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement took it upon themselves to indulge in a bout of pointless self-indulgence.

They introduced a motion — passed by conference — to award full voting rights to all UK residents. Not citizens but residents.

This measure would, at a stroke, extend the franchise to millions of immigrants in this country who are not British passport holders.

In addition, the motion commits a future Labour government to closing all immigration detention centres, ending caps and targets on net immigration and ditching the requirement that economic migrants should be able to support themselves through promised work or accumulated funds.

This ridiculous proposal drives a coach and horses through efforts by all parties to devise a fair and workable immigration system in the post-Brexit era, one that balances the needs of the economy with the sensitivities of ordinary Britons living in ethnically mixed communities.

As a former Home Secretary, I know how incendiary the issue of immigration can be. It is only too easy to ‘weaponise’ — a tool that can be employed by the more cynical kind of politician seeking to make capital out of people’s fears.


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