The UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has announced that the free movement of people will end under a Conservative government.
In a far reaching speech at the annual Conservative party conference in Manchester, Patel said she intended to “end the freedom of movement once and for all”.
Patel’s reputation as to-the-right of the Conservatives was firmly upheld as she positioned the Tories as the party of law and order.
She explained that
“As Home Secretary at this defining moment in our country’s history, I have a particular responsibility when it comes to taking back control.”
Her hardline immigration policy falls in alignment with the Conservative government’s ongoing lurch to the right, as they seek to garner the support of Brexiteers and right-wingers nationwide.
Under Patel’s plans, the UK would introduce an Australian-style points based system, which is primarily based on the supposed skill value of a migrant.
Patel said she the system would be:
“One that works in the best interests of Britain. One that attracts and welcomes the brightest and the best… And one that is under the control of the British Government.”
A points-based system has been criticised by many as being unfair and discriminatory, and Its implementation would lead to significant change in the nature of UK immigration.
But the announcement was met with widespread applause at the conference, signifying considerable support for the measure within the Conservative party.
Predictably, Patel’s stinging remarks towards the Labour party drew the loudest cheers of all during the blunt and unwavering speech.
“Do we really want a Labour Home Secretary who would leave our communities and our country less safe?
A Labour Party who wouldn’t even attempt to take back control of our borders because they want to surrender our border control and extend free movement.
And on policing, the Labour Party would stop the police from doing their job.”
The posturing and pronouncements will delight many within the Conservative party. It certainly leaves no room for confusion about where most Tories stand in their vision for the future of immigration policy.
In contrast, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn recently announced at the Labour annual party conference that freedom of movement was “open for negotiation” after Brexit.
Furthermore, Labour party delegates overwhelmingly supported plans to “maintain and extend free movement”.
The Liberal Democrats are the biggest unequivocal supporters of the freedom of movement and other parties such as the Green Party and the Scottish National Party have also spoken of their support for the extension of freedom of movement.
The impending General Election will undoubtedly bring more immigration arguments to the table, and immigration policy is likely to fill a large space in the election campaigns of all political parties.
The future of UK immigration policy will depend on the outcome of the election and, undoubtedly, the changes could be dramatic in the event of a right-wing government.
Whatever the next few months bring, expect the immigration rhetoric to turn up quite a few notches.[Image credit: https://www.ft.com/content/2b92053e-e461-11e9-b112-9624ec9edc59]