Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Telling the real story behind immigration figures

. . .  is my fourth and final column - in a series of pieces exploring the EU referendum and immigration - for the Solicitors Journal. [READ MORE HERE]

We can counter the claim that Brexit means taking back control of the UK’s borders

. . . is my latest piece for LabourList. Originally published online before the EU Referendum, I've been unable to post it on my blog beforehand. [READ MORE HERE]

Monday, June 27, 2016

Hegel's Ideal Scotch - A LIST EXISTS!!

Wow. Someone I’ve never met read an essay I wrote about Hegel and whiskey - he did like Absolute Spirit, after all (you’ve been a great audience - good night!).
He then decided he’d create a system of ranking whiskies based on my Hegelian insights - honoured, fascinated and amazed all at once.
CHECK IT OUT HERE - much fun!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Daily Express publishes wrong migration statistics - and hopes you don't notice

This morning I saw this story on the Daily Express website about "Four million migrants have entered the UK in the past 20 years". These numbers don't refer to the total number who have come to Britain on holiday, but instead 'net migration'.

Some background. Net migration counts the numbers of people coming into the UK - and the numbers of people leaving for abroad - for 12 months or more.

I quickly pointed out to Giles Sheldrick, who wrote the piece, that the net migration figures he was using included a large chunk of foreign students, British students on a gap year and British citizens who lived abroad for a year or more who decided to return home. In other words, many of the 4m migrants we were to be worried about were either British citizens coming home or foreign students earning a degree before returning to their countries.

He first denied I was right -

Curiously, his piece says nothing about the students -- and does not account for, erm, 700,000 of the 4m he says are in Britain.
After reminding him that, no, he definitely has his facts wrong on how net migration is counted, two things happened:
First, he deleted his tweet so that no one might see his error - and then he did this:
Sadly, this seems yet another case of inflating numbers in an effort to scare more than inform -- all ahead of a crucial, tightly contested referendum battle.  But I suppose "never let the facts get in the way of a story"....

Enoch Powell said students shouldn't count as immigrants. So why does Vote Leave include them?

The answer seems to be to do anything they can to make the migration numbers are large as possible.

Even Enoch Powell in 'that speech' (yes, the 'Rivers of Blood' one) rejected the idea of including students in migration statistics: "They are not, and never have been, immigrants." (See for yourself below!)
 Yet the "net migration" statistics used by campaigners for Britain leaving the UK regularly quote net migration stats where a big chunk are students. If you're to the right of Enoch Powell *on immigration*, then this should speak volumes...
(Quote is from my book Becoming British (Biteback, May 2016) found at https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/becoming-british).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Telling the real story behind immigration figures

. . . is my last of four columns on immigration and Britain's EU referendum for Solicitors Journal [READ MORE HERE].

Unpublished letter to the Time #19


Vote Leave's proposed Asylum and Immigration Control Bill would create a problem for how Britain handles asylum cases. Brexit would mean our exit from the Dublin Regulation and so end the UK's right to return asylum seekers to the EU country they entered first. The concern is that this could create a pull factor attracting more asylum seekers taking risks with their lives in the knowledge they might settle in Britain without any prospect of return to the EU. This is an odd outcome for any Brexit campaigner to support.




Professor Thom Brooks

Chair in Law and Government

Author, Becoming British: UK Citizenship Examined (Biteback, 2016)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Great piece by InFacts.Org noting my campaigning to bring back the Migration Impacts Fund

Experts like Thom Brooks have been calling for the reinstatement of Migration Impact Fund "since its abolition" http://infacts.org/cameron-must-activate-pledge-local-migration-funding-now/

Bhikhu Parekh makes brilliant speech in favour of the UK remaining in the EU

The speech is found here and delivered in the House of Lords - the full text:
"My Lords, I have been in this country for more than 50 years and I cannot recall an equivalent occasion when it was likely to take such a momentous decision as to whether we should remain in or leave the European Union, on the basis of a rather shallow and polarised debate conducted in a mood of panic created or exploited by a motley crowd of politicians who are prepared to change their convictions as often as they change their underwear. I want to argue as forcefully as I can why it would be unwise of us to leave the European Union; or rather, more positively, why it is crucial that we stay.
First, as several speakers have pointed out, there is no clear alternative. There is all this brave talk about our being able to do this, that or the other, negotiating like Canada or Norway, but it is all based on fantasies. The European Union will not view us as kindly, and therefore will be less disposed to accommodate us. Other countries will not be able to deal with us because they have been dealing with us on the basis of our membership of the European Union and, once that is taken away, the assumption based on the fact that they will continue to co-operate with us does not hold. I therefore think that it would be absolutely mad to move in a direction about which we know so little rather than build on what we have achieved so far. The Prime Minister has brought back a settlement. In 2017 we have the unique opportunity to be president. There are all these possibilities whereby we can use our good offices to set our own agenda and take the European Union in the direction we want to take it.
The second reason that we ought to stay in the European Union has to do with the idea of sovereignty. We are constantly told that we should take back control over our affairs. Well, we already have control over our affairs, because our MEPs sit there and our commissioners take decisions. Getting out does not give us any greater control, because the forces we deal with are global and they require a global response. Sovereignty is ultimately about power and power is not gained in isolation, because isolation is impotence. Power is gained when we share with others in jointly collaborating and organising our affairs. The choice is therefore between insisting on being sovereign, going it alone and becoming impotent or being part of a larger unit and working together with it.
The third reason I think membership of the European Union is crucial to us has to do with the fact that Europe has been a constant point of reference and has provided standards of comparison. In all matters having to do with social and other affairs—for example, survival rates for patients after cancer, unmarried mothers, teenage pregnancies—there are comparative figures for other European countries and for our own. These hurt us when they show that we are not doing as well as other countries, because all European countries, more or less, are at the same stage of development. These comparisons inspire us, they shame us, they make us proud when we do better and they lead to important changes.
It is also very striking that membership of the European Union has been a force for great good for us. I can remember those occasions when people had to take matters to the European Court. In matters having to do with human rights, equal pay, paid holidays, maternity and paternity leave and health and safety standards, Europe has been a champion of social democracy and has helped us maintain a certain standard of decency in our country which otherwise might not have obtained.
My fourth reason has to do with the fact that our membership of the European Union has helped us create a stable and peaceful Europe. This is partly because of our great role in the Second World War and the policies we have followed since. If we leave, there are two possibilities. Either other countries may try to emulate us and the European Union may break up into a conglomeration of small nation states, or the process of unification may go further, resulting in a continental state. A powerful continental state can never be in our interest. It is striking that our foreign policy has always been based on a balance of power in Europe.
The other reason this is important has to do with the fact that nation states are becoming ever less important. All countries are forming alliances and it is only those countries that are part of stable alliances which are able to make an impact. The United States matters not just because it is large and independent but because it is able to work through international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank or its control over Latin America. Likewise, China matters because it has all manner of alliances with neighbouring countries. The EU is another example. Through it we are able to shape the global agenda. Outside it, we would not have any of the influence we currently have.
I readily agree that the EU has its economic and political problems, but these can be tackled by remaining within the EU. The Prime Minister’s proposal as to the kinds of changes he has been able to secure tells us how those changes can be brought about, and I therefore suggest that we should not only stay within the EU but show a greater degree of commitment and enthusiasm than we have done so far, rather than appearing to be sulky and constantly threatening to go home with our marbles if we do not get our way. That is not the way a great nation should behave."

PRESS RELEASE: Brexit immigration bill does not improve border controls


Brexit immigration bill does not improve border controls

-With picture-
*TV and radio broadcast facilities available*

The Vote Leave campaign for Britain to leave the EU proposes that Parliament pass an Asylum and Immigration Control Bill should voters choose Brexit.

The new Bill aims “to end the automatic right of all EU citizens to enter the UK” and so stop uncontrolled EU migration to Britain.

Vote Leave claims this legislation would also end European courts hold on Britain’s asylum policy. Brexit would then bring border restrictions for EU citizens and asylum policy within Parliament’s control if this Bill became law.

These claims are rejected by immigration law experts like Thom Brooks, professor of law and government at Durham University. Brooks says: ‘EU citizens do not have unrestricted rights to come and go across Britain’s border however they like. All freedoms have their limits and EU movement is no exception’.

EU citizens can normally enter the UK for six months. If they fail to get a job or lack any realistic prospect of work or study, they can be deported. More than three thousand EU citizens have been either turned away at the UK’s border or deported since 2010.

Brooks denies the new bill proposed by Vote Leave would create a better asylum policy for the UK as well. ‘Britain is part of the Dublin Regulation that allows us to deport anyone seeking asylum that entered another EU country first like Greece or Italy. If voters choose Brexit, then we leave this EU-wide policy that has benefited Britain’.

The current EU rules on asylum would not apply to the UK if there was Brexit. Refugees coming to Britain would not need to be returned to any other EU country they entered first. Brooks says this raises a concern overlooked by Vote Leave. ‘In making the case for a bill that could reduce net migration’, says Brooks, ‘ they might actually incentivise more asylum seekers to make their claims in Britain knowing there was no possibility of being returned to other EU countries. This change would be counterproductive to Vote Leave’s aims – and without the protections afforded Britain within an EU-wide policy. From EU migration to asylum, we are better in than out of Europe when it comes to immigration policy’.


Unpublished letter to the Times #18

Sir, I’m disappointed to see Tim Montgomerie’s sorry attempt at promoting a vote for Leave by empty fearmongering. Claiming that net migration ‘could’ be ‘444,000 this year or 555,000 next’ is an exercise in wild speculation. If he’s truly concerned about controlling EU migration, he should revisit how countries like France and Germany do a better job than the UK at implementing existing EU rules. The more Brexit campaigners harp on about ‘free’ movement, the less convinced I am they know anything about its many caveats and restrictions.
Professor Thom Brooks
Chair in Law and Government
Durham University

Unpublished letter to the Times #17

Sir, We need no lectures on immigration ‘facts’ from Lord Green of Deddington and his MigrationwatchUK. His repeats the myth – because it is just that – that the EU ‘prevent us placing any restrictions’ on EU migrants wanting to enter Britain. In fact, ‘free’ movement is a misnomer. Citizens of other EU countries are denied entry or deported every year. Lord Green may wish this happened in greater numbers, but my wish is he consider the facts before ideology.
Chair in Law and Government
Durham Law School

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

STATEMENT: Why Vote Leave post-Brexit immigration plans are a bad deal

A statement by Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government at Durham University's Law School and immigration expert, on Vote Leave’s Brexit immigration plans:
·         At the heart of Vote Leave’s agenda for a post-Brexit Britain is an Asylum and Immigration Control Bill.

·         The new law aims “"To end the automatic right of all EU citizens to enter the UK"

·         But no such law is necessary. EU citizens do not have any automatic right to cross Britain’s border.

·         EU ‘free’ movement of people is subject to conditions – it is neither uncontrolled or unrestricted.

·         EU citizens can claim no benefits during their first three months and may be deported if without a job or realistic prospect of a job after a total of six months – just like anyone on a tourist visa.

·         Deported EU citizens can be excluded from entry as can persons deemed not in public interest, such as those suspected of terrorist activities.

·         The one automatic right that would end is on asylum – Britain’s Brexit would mean an end to our being part of the Dublin Regulation on asylum seekers.

·         This would mean that any refugee coming to the UK could no longer be returned to the EU country they first entered to have their claim for asylum considered.

·         Brexit could mean more asylum seekers coming to Britain as they would no longer risk return to other parts of EU and, if successful, could stay in the UK rather than build a new life elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The UK citizenship test is like a bad pub quiz - and needs to change

. . . is my latest column for The Journal [READ MORE HERE].

Where have Cameron’s promised reforms to EU membership gone?

. . . is my latest piece for the Solicitors Journal [READ MORE HERE].

STATEMENT: Would Britain have MORE control over migration outside EU?

Would Britain have more control over migration outside EU?

1. Seems unlikely – possibly even less control. Vote Leave have advocated an Australian-based points system. The Australians brought one into place to increase migration – if migrants satisfied certain criteria, they had automatic entry – so a similar system along these lines would increase migration to Britain, not decrease it. There is a points-based system subject to a cap in place for non-EU migrants. I know about this – I had to pass it.

2. Then there is the issue of ‘free’ movement. Leaving the EU does not mean leaving ‘free’ movement – no country has had access to the single market without accepting it. For all the reminders that Britain is 5th largest economy, Germany is 4th and France is 6th – and together the EU is second only to the USA.

3.  ‘Free’ movement is also not free. It is about the movement of workers, not benefit takers. Any EU migrant cannot claim benefits in the first three months arriving into Britain – and can be removed from Britain if no job or realistic prospect of work after six months. Existing rules might be enforced better (as I discuss in Becoming British https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/becoming-british) but there are rules for controlling EU migration upheld in the courts.

4. The UK has an opt out of migration-related EU policies. But we opted in to the Dublin agreement on asylum seekers. This means that anyone setting foot first in Greece or Italy, but makes a claim for asylum in Britain can be returned to the first EU country entered. If Britain left the EU, we leave the Dublin deal altogether. Britain could not return every asylum seeker to other EU countries as it would be outside the EU deal. This would increase the number of asylum cases heard – and supported – in the UK. It might also attract more cases to Britain as they would be considered here without possibility of return to other parts of the EU.

5. The UK is also a part of EU-wide intelligence on counterterrorism. No doubt, the UK would remain a part of some shared system, but it might no longer be part of the same regulatory framework for tackling terrorists if outside EU system. This would inevitably raise issues over time about how intelligence can and should be shared with the UK as a non-member.

Monday, June 06, 2016

STATEMENT on what Brexit could mean for Northern Ireland's border

The Remain camp is right that Brexit would be likely to lead to a hardening of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The UK and Ireland are part of a Common Travel Area with the Isle of Man permitting freedom of movement between them. But if there was a Brexit, their shared membership of the EU would end and with it common agreements on migration, especially EU migration.

Brexit campaigners claim Britain can secure its border and restrict EU migration by leaving the EU. Their promise that there would not be any border controls on the ground with Ireland are a direct contradiction. They cannot promise to restrict EU migration better while leaving an open, unrestricted border with a EU country – EU migrants could simply enter Britain through this backdoor.

Either Brexit campaigners have not thought this through – or they forget that Northern Ireland is every bit a part of the UK as England, Scotland or Wales.