Thursday, December 22, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Life in the UK test may cause unexpected problems for EU citizens, says immigration expert


Life in the UK test may cause unexpected problems for EU citizens, says immigration expert

-With picture-

*TV and radio broadcast facilities available*

Prime Minister Theresa May has come under increasing pressure to allow EU citizens currently resident in Britain to stay post-Brexit. She has called on European leaders to make a reciprocal agreement protecting British and EU citizens after Brexit is triggered.

These plans may run into problems because of Britain’s “Life in the UK” citizenship test, according to an immigration expert. Professor Thom Brooks, Head of Durham Law School, claims that the test must be passed for both new citizens and permanent residents. EU citizens wanting to stay long term post-Brexit would need to pass it.

Professor Brooks says: “While the citizenship test was first launched to help support a bridge for migrants to integrate, it has quickly become a barrier to keep more people out.”

He likens the test to “a bad pub quiz” urgently needing reforms if it is to be fit for purpose. Brooks says: “The UK citizenship test is the test few British citizens can pass. There has never been any consultation with the more than two million that have sat it. No wonder it is grown into the oddity we see today.” Brooks sat the test in 2009 and became a British citizen in 2011.

The test handbook requires new applicants to know the age of Big Ben, the height of the London Eye and the name of the first person to start a curry house in London in order to become a permanent resident or citizen. There is no need to know how to contact emergency services or report a crime. The test is in its third edition and unchanged since 2013.

Professor Brooks argues that the government will have problems guaranteeing long term residency for EU citizens in the UK unless the citizenship test is revised urgently. “This is not only about ensuring a fair deal for EU migrants, but for British citizens too,” Brooks says. “Many in government and the civil service are rightly embarrassed by the test and will admit they could not pass it either. If they can’t, then neither should anyone else. Either the test goes or it’s revised – and with clear input from new citizens who passed it to get this right.”



Question 1

In 1999, what happened to hereditary peers in the House of Lords?

A – Their numbers were greatly increased

B – Their salaries were stopped

C – Women were allowed to inherit their titles

D – They lost their automatic right to attend the House of Lords

Question 2

Why is 1918 an important date in the history of women’s rights?

A – The first divorce laws were introduced

B – Women were given the right to vote

C – Equal pay laws were passed

D – Women were made legally responsible for their children

Question 3

Which TWO are examples of civil law?

A – Disputes between landlords and tenants

B – Carrying a weapon

C – Discrimination in the workplace

D – Selling tobacco

Question 4

Which of the following statements is correct?

A – Magistrates usually work unpaid and do not need legal qualifications

B – Magistrates must be specially trained legal experts who have been solicitors for three years

Question 5

Which language was spoken by people during the Iron Age?

A – Latin

B – Celtic

C – English

D – Anglo-Saxon

Question 6

Which TWO religions celebrate Diwali?

A – Buddhists

B – Hindus

C – Christians

D – Sikhs

Question 7

Which of the following statements is correct?

A – The Speaker of the House of Commons remains a Member of Parliament (MP) after election as Speaker

B – The Speaker of the House of Commons has to give up being an MP when elected Speaker

Question 8

When walking your dog in a public place, what must you ensure?

A – That your dog wears a special dog coat

B – That your dog never strays more than 3 metres away from you

C – That you dog does not come into contact with other dogs

D – That your dog wears a collar showing the name and address of the owner

Question 9

Which of the following statements is correct?

A – Halloween is a modern American festival that has recently become popular in the UK

B – Halloween has its roots in an ancient pagan festival marking the beginning of winter

Question 10

For approximately how many years did the Romans stay in this country?

A – 50 years

B – 100 years

C – 400 years

D – 600 years

Question 11

Which of the following statements is correct?

A – After the age of 70, drivers must renew their licence[s] every three years

B – After the age of 70, drivers must renew their licence[s] every five years

Question 12

Which TWO are 20th-century British discoveries or inventions?

A – Cloning a mammal

B – Cash machines (ATMs)

C – Mobile phones

D – Walkmans

Question 13

How many people serve on a jury in Scotland?

A – 8

B – 11

C – 15

D – 20

Question 14

What is the highest-value note issued as British currency?

A – £20

B – £70

C – £50

D – £100

Question 15

Which of the following statements is correct?

A – James VI of Scotland was related to Queen Elizabeth I of England

B – James VI of Scotland was not related to Queen Elizabeth I of England

Question 16

Which of the following statements is correct?

A – If your driving licence is from a country in the European Union you can drive in the UK for as long as your licence is valid

B – If your driving licence is from a country in the European Union you have to apply for a UK licence in order to drive

The correct answers are below – remember, you need 12 (75 per cent) correct to pass!

Question 1 = D; Question 2 = B; Question 3 = A and C; Question 4 = A; Question 5 = B; Question 6 = B and D; Question 7 = A; Question 8 = D; Question 9 = B; Question 10 = C; Question 11 = A; Question 12 = A and B; Question 13 = C; Question 14 = C; Question 15 = A; Question 16 = A


Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government, in Durham Law School, Durham University, is available for comment on Thursday, December 22, and Friday, December 23, 2015, on

Monday, December 19, 2016

The sooner we have a conversation about immigration and citizenship, the better my new column for The Journal which can be read here (full access).

Immigration expert accuses Sajid Javid of 'guesswork' over oath of British values

Details online here (full access). Story in International Business Times about my comments re: the communities secretary.

PRESS RELEASE: Government oath betrays British values

All public office holders must swear a new oath of allegiance to British values to help combat extremism. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, wants political and civic leaders to lead by example saying “We can’t expect new arrivals to embrace British values if those of us who are already here don’t do so ourselves.”
Javid has also said that he wants every new migrant to swear an oath in plans expected this spring. Only migrants becoming British citizens must do so at present.
The communities secretary’s remarks have been accused of betraying the British values they are meant to uphold. Professor Thom Brooks, Head of Durham Law School, said that British values like equality and the rule of law require that the government to avoid creating second class citizens. Brooks said: “If an oath to British values will help combat extremism, why is it only for public officers and new migrants but not everyone? The government has agreed to ban extremist right wing groups born in Britain. What is best for all should not only be limited to a few – and this selective decision about who must take an oath and who need not shows a lack of respect and fair play for all citizens new and old.”
An immigrant from the United States, Professor Brooks became a British citizen in 2011 after taking an oath of loyalty. He says: “British values are important to our democracy. The government acts against these values when it dictates our values. It should begin a public consultation and let the British people – and not ministers – decide what our values are.”

Monday, November 28, 2016

How Theresa May could win back the public's trust on immigration [UPDATED]

. . . is the title of my new column in today's The Daily Telegraph.

UPDATE: I am delighted to see that the Daily Telegraph has since published an editorial in support of my call for abandoning the government's migration figures.

Friday, November 11, 2016

My PMQ question for Theresa May - on Brexit

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn invites the public to submit possible questions he might put to Theresa May in each week's Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament. This is mine:

""Brexit means Brexit" says nothing at all. Will you please ask the Prime Minister if this spin means nothing - or has her government scribbled a plan during their so-called Brexit brainstorm retreat?

As Professor of Law and Government at Durham University where I'm Head of Law, it is increasingly clear that Brexit means much more that breaking away from the EU or agreeing a new trade deal with the EU. There are difficult issues - relating to maternity pay, workers' rights and others - that need to be divided into what will be kept, what will be reformed and what will be binned and with a plan for each part. This can't be hammered out in a weekend at Chequers or in two years. So why won't the PM come clean and say she won't do it after all?"

Donald Trump's latest hypocrisy

It now appears increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote - more voters across the United States are choosing her for President than Donald Trump. If true, this means the Democrats have won the popular vote for the White House in 6 of 7 elections in a row.

Great news? Not exactly. 2016 looks like second time that the Republicans won the election without winning the most votes - the last time was when Al Gore beat George W. Bush at the polls, but Bush won in the Electoral College so became President.

If you think the Electoral College is "a disaster for a democracy" that makes the country "divided" putting it "in serious and unprecedented never before" as the system "is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!" as the world looks on and "is laughing at us" THEN YOU AGREE WITH DONALD J. TRUMP! See what he said ---

For some reason, Trump has now deleted these Tweets sent when he thought Romney won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College. Trump has not commented on this since. I can't figure out why....

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

STATEMENT: Theresa May's Brexit plans

Statement by Thom Brooks, Head of Durham Law School -

·      Little has changed since Theresa May said “Brexit means Brexit”. We still lack much substance on what comes next – except that May wants to keep us all in the dark.

·     It’s a relief to see growing unease in Parliament for May to trigger Article 50 without a plan given proper scrutiny by MPs and the public.

·     The Referendum was for leaving the EU, but not on any terms.

·     Vote Leave promised £350 million per week to the NHS and a points-based immigration system – neither will happen.

·     Vote Leave also promised that leaving would mean Parliament could ‘take back control’. And so it should in deciding the terms and timing for any Brexit.

·     If May fails to do that too, she ignores the three main pledges that won the referendum for Brexit – and risks abusing a vote for one future by giving us something very different. And none of us know what that is. Perhaps not even her Cabinet.

Monday, October 10, 2016

STATEMENT: On Clinton v Trump in Presidential Debate No. 2

·    Americans watching the second Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump saw the most heated confrontation in this increasingly personal campaign.

·     Viewers favoured Clinton over Trump, but we should not overstate the importance of the debate on changing minds.

·     It wasn’t the debate that put a nail in the coffin of Trump’s campaign for the White House but his lewd remarks about women that look like a significant turning point – with more voters turned off from supporting Trump.

·     While Clinton’s chances improve daily – although her campaign has been far from perfect – the real problem for Republicans is where they go next. While their establishment retract endorsements to Trump in their droves, the GOP base still favour Trump overwhelmingly. Trump may not be the face of America or ever lead it, but the longer the Republicans cannot unseat him as their most popular member they will remain looking at the White House from outside the Rose Garden gates rather than from inside the Oval Office.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Theresa May triggers Brexit - by ensuring all EU law is embedded in UK law?

Remarks on Theresa May's recent speech on Brexit to the Conservative Party conference by Professor Thom Brooks, Head of Durham Law School:

·         We’re still no further forward about what ‘Brexit’ means.

·         PM Theresa May has set a deadline for triggering Article 50 by the end of March 2017. But this assumes she can pull the trigger without the consent of Parliament  – and this is hotly contested and will be decided by the courts.

·         Leaving the EU does not mean leaving behind EU laws. May’s new Great Repeal Bill actually keeps all EU laws currently recognised in UK law. The big change is that it opens the door to the repeal of EU laws over time.

·         This is likely to take many years – not only to do a trade deal with the EU, but to select which of the thousands of EU regulations we will keep, which we will amend and which we will reject. This is a revolution that will come no sooner than “in due course” – and it will test the patience of many a Brexiteer.

·         May’s speech made plain her wish that government ministers make executive decisions about EU rules, but this is likely to be challenged by Parliament with fierce resistance.

·         If ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and leaving the EU, the Great Reform Bill will have Brexit mean the UK still having all EU laws – for now and the near future until a plan is on offer. We still seem no closer to that.

Journalists can contact me HERE

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

STATEMENT: Hillary Clinton will recover from pneumonia, but will she heal damage on trust to her reputation? #FluGate

·         Everyone gets pneumonia. Not everyone lies about it – or tries to make people think it’s something else.

·         Health and stamina are important issues for US Presidential candidates. The job is exhausting and requires being in good physical shape.

·         The big issue here isn’t really health, but trust.

·         Pneumonia isn’t the plague. Hillary will make a full and swift recovery from that.

·         The main point is whether she can recover from the damage done to her reputation.

·         Serious questions have been raised about the use of her personal email account while she served as Secretary of State. Donald Trump has questioned whether the public can trust her.

·         Hillary’s getting pneumonia should have been trivial. But her team’s poor handling of this issue has brought to the centre of this bitter presidential debate raising new questions about trust and honesty.

·         This is not an issue any candidate wants debated with less than two months to go to the election.

·         The election is still Hillary’s to lose, but she’s not making it any easier through unforced errors like this.

STATEMENT: David Cameron resigns from Parliament defined by Brexit

Statement by Professor Thom Brooks (Head, Durham Law School) on former PM David Cameron's resignation from Parliament:

·         David Cameron is – in many ways – a great success. He revolutionised the Conservatives into a new look (complete with new tree logo) modernised political party that brought an end to the Blair-Brown years under Labour.

·         Cameron’s greatest triumph was probably in defeating the polls ahead of the 2015 General Election where many had the Tories pegged to come second behind Labour. Cameron’s Tories went on to win an outright majority.

·         And to his credit, the Tories were able to expand their MPs on re-election – a rare political feat.

·         But Cameron will not be remembered for any of this. It is the decision to hold a referendum he never needed and that he lost over Brexit that will define his legacy in history books for years to come.

·         Fearing that UKIP might cost the Tories the election, he promised an EU referendum if the Tories formed a government. And – to his shock – he got his wish.

·         Then fearing summer stories about migration that also never materialised, a referendum bill was rushed through Parliament and the public had the spring to decide.

·         When Cameron took over the Tories, they were divided over Europe. Now the country is too.


Monday, September 05, 2016

STATEMENT: Theresa May & the UK points based immigration

The news today is that Theresa May has rejected calls for a points based system for Britain post-Brexit. But this is only partly true.

For nearly a decade, the UK has had a points based system - but it applies only to non-EU citizens. I know. I had to meet the right number of points to stay in the UK as a non-EU citizen from the United States.

Australia is credited with having a points based system that the UK should import - and this is what Tony Blair's government largely did. Australia brought in the system to attract more immigrants.

The way it works is that someone can get a visa to live and work in Australia if they satisfy a number of requirements: each gains an applicant a set number of points, these are added up and a visa is granted if the number meets or exceeds a target.

Points are awarded for holding higher qualifications (the 'higher' the qualifications, the more points earned), salary (the more earned, the more points awarded) and/or for working in certain industries. The system is designed to attract more immigrants (and not less) by sending out a signal to select types of immigrants (e.g., qualifications, working in key areas, etc.) that if they want to come to Australia, they can. Oh, and it worked - Australia did attract more migrants as well.

Britain brought in a similar system - based on the Australian model - but added caveats like a limit on the number of work visas that could be granted.

Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out using a points based system, but it is unclear what this means. She has not made any effort to stop its use for non-UK citizens - and her comments do not indicate any threat to their continued use for these citizens either. To say that she opposes a points based system overlooks the fact that a points based system already exists for many people today in Britain.

We're told she prefers work visas. If there are only x number of work visas to award, then these can be limited to x - but it is unclear why there cannot be a cap on work visas alongside using a points based system like at present for non-EU citizens.

And passing the points based system hasn't been a problem for her before. After I passed the system, I applied two years later for British citizenship - and then Home Secretary Theresa May sent me this letter:

For more on how a points based immigration system works, see my book Becoming British: UK Citizenship Examined (Biteback) published this summer.

Monday, August 29, 2016

I don't see Brexit happening any time soon

. . . and that's what I told both the Daily Mail and The Independent for feature interviews with me that ran today.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Professor Thom Brooks: How Labour is failing voters

. . . is the title of my column for Express on Sunday about the Labour Party leadership contest -- and the long road back to power with my advice on where we in Labour should start [READ MORE HERE].

Friday, August 26, 2016

It was a pleasure to speak on a "Looking Forward: reflections on UK political culture" panel at a conference on The "Brexit" campaign: 2016 UK referendum on membership of the European Union held at Leicester University last month. Fellow panellists included Jay Blumler (Leeds) and Jen Birks (Nottingham). 

I spoke about the EU Referendum as a referendum on the Tories and Labour - and what this means for the current political situation in Britain.

The event was also an opportunity to launch an important new report [READ IT HERE].

A fabulous occasion and great discussion.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Delighted to be the new Head of Durham's brilliant Law School

Durham Law School came 3rd in the UK's national Research Excellence Framework assessment and we're ranked 41st in the world on a clear upward trajectory. An honour to serve as the head of such a terrific Law School and looking forward to the future.

Delighted to be Advisory Editor to the University of Bologna Law Review

. . . assisting with any submissions in the area of legal philosophy for the law review [READ MORE].

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why the arguments for scrapping Trident just didn't add up

. . . is my latest column for the Newcastle Journal, the UK's regional newspaper of the year. My column can be read here. [SEE MORE]

STATEMENT: UK might have won EU reforms if referendum delayed 12 months

Statement by Thom Brooks, Professor of Law & Government and Head of Durham Law School at Durham University:

·         Italian PM Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande met off the coast of Naples.

·         They delivered an important statement about the EU without the UK – a Europe that will work closer together on common defence, intelligence sharing and tackling youth unemployment.

·         The EU is clearly bruised by the UK referendum result and needs to reassert positive momentum – this speech is an important step in this direction.

·         But this statement also shows widespread agreement at the heart of Europe for reforming the EU.

·         The three areas outlines – defence, intelligence and employment – are not the only areas highlighted for change. Reforms to the Dublin Agreement on asylum seekers is also moving forward.

·         The irony is that at a time where the EU accepts reforms are needed – many of which are consonant with the UK’s wishes – it is only now that the UK is choosing to walk away.

·         This may prove a major opportunity lost that could have led to substantial benefits for the UK – and perhaps if the referendum was delayed by a year many voter concerns might have been met within the EU without having to leave it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Thom Brooks named Head of Durham Law School

I am delighted to announce that I have been named the new Head of Durham Law School, one of the leading law schools in Britain. Durham ranked 3rd in the UK's Research Excellence Framework exercise and 41st globally. I am excited about this new opportunity and looking forward to building on the School's many successes.

COMMENT: Home Affairs Committee Report on EU Migration Crisis

 Statement by Professor Thom Brooks, Head of Durham Law School & Professor of Law and Government:

·         Home Affairs Committee Report says EU action is “too little, too late” after a year long inquiry

·         Many of its conclusions and recommendations I reached a year ago. For example:

·         The Committee’s Report says that too few local authorities have taken in Syrian refugees and that the government seems unable to meet its own target of repatriating 20,000. But many of us have noted with concern that too few local authorities take ANY refugees. Neither former PM David Cameron or former Immigration Minister (now Northern Ireland Secretary) James Brokenshire had one refugee relocated to their constituencies. Meanwhile areas like Middlesbrough have taken in more than the national guidelines and faced heavy pressures on local public services as a result. This is a problem that isn’t new.

·         The Report states that there should be greater coordination among Britain’s Border Agency, MOD, Coast Guard and other agencies to deal with border security issues together in a more ‘joined up’ effort. But unprecedented movement of people into Europe also requires greater coordination on the EU’s border. Britain cannot police it alone. If the UK remained in the EU, it would be part of a EU-wide coast guard protecting Europe’s external border. Government now needs a plan in place on what it will do next with a Brexit.

·         Treaty arrangements between Britain and France for the Eurotunnel are separate from any agreements within the EU. The one need not be affected much by the other and should remain in place.


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Great fun in Westminster

This past weekend I enjoyed attending the wedding of my good friend and local MP Phil Wilson. It was held in the Houses of Parliament. This photo was taken during the reception in the apartments in the famous tower housing Big Ben belonging to the Speaker of the House of Commons. This particular room is where the monarch slept the night before delivering the king's speech the next day.

Friday, July 29, 2016

In the age of Byron Burgers, we are all border agents

. . . is my new piece for the International Business Times. [READ MORE HERE]

Don’t grill Byron burger for government’s cheap-as-chips immigration tactics

. . . is my latest piece for The Conversation. [READ MORE HERE]

The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy

A fabulous new book - and warmly recommended to readers:

Edited by Matthew D. Adler and Marc Fleurbaey

Oxford Handbooks

  • Identifies the tools and methodologies for evaluating and improving government policy in light of the effect of policies on individual well-being
  • Approaches the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective by drawing on economics, philosophy and psychology
  • Comprehensively reviews methodologies of assessing policies including GDP, inequality and poverty metrics, cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and social welfare functions; conceptions of individual well-being such as preference-based, hedonic/happiness, and objective goods; and of tools for measuring well-being
Link to book is HERE

Thursday, July 28, 2016

COMMENT: Byron burger chain staff arrested in immigration raids

A brief comment on Byron burger chain staff arrested in immigration raids:

·    The government has made it more difficult for migrants to work illegally in UK.
Migrants must show prove of lawful residency for work, renting property from a private landlord, opening a bank account or acquiring a drivers licence. The aim of these measures is to make every day life more difficult for migrants in the UK unlawfully.

·    Exposing illegal workers is how most migrants unlawfully in the UK are discovered.
Migrants in the UK unlawfully are not mostly discovered at the border, but within the country -- usually after a tourist or work visa has expired.

·    Key industry is food  and takeaways for discovering illegal working.
The government has been increasing its searches of businesses where illegal working has been a problem historically given limited resources for such work.

·     But unclear how government’s checks led up today as Byron Burgers had already done satisfactory checks.
Byron Burgers had done the proper checks - and nothing wrong despite some of its employees submitting false documents. This is a real challenge for the Home Office - it has effectively devolved immigration enforcement to employers, private landlords, banks and universities - but often without the full means available to the Home Office to uncover false papers. In the end, "intelligence" perhaps a tip off from the community brought about this result rather than any of the government's recent measures to tackle illegal working.
Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government & Head of Durham Law School at Durham University, is available for comment on or 0191 3344 365.