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Immigration law and policy after the election: unfortunately, the Conservative manifesto tells us what is coming


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Some people are posting up comparisons of different immigration policies of different parties. I cannot see the point. The result of the next General Election is a foregone conclusion and has been since Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of the Labour Party. Surprisingly, some on the left even now do not understand this, but the opinion polls are very, very clear. Labour has edged up a little in the latest polls but the gap remains oceanic in scale. And opinion polls historically overestimate Labour support, not underestimate it.

So, if we want to know what is going to happen in immigration law and policy after the election, all we have to do is take a look at the Conservative Party manifesto.

It is far, far worse than I would have imagined. Some of it is almost unbelievable. And I’m not just talking about the front cover, which is terrifying enough on its own.

First, the things that will definitely happen after the election:

  • The minimum earnings threshold for sponsoring family members will be INCREASED: p54. It is already at £18,600, far in excess of earnings on the minimum wage and particularly hard to meet for those outside London or who might be ethnic minority, female or young. The intention and effect: more and more separated families.
  • Immigration Skills Charge to be doubled so that employers of skilled workers from outside the EU will need to pay £2,000 per year per worker on top of the costs of sponsorship licences: p20. It will become too expensive to employ foreign workers, British workers are not available, businesses cannot grow, the economy is harmed, we are all poorer.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge to be tripled to £600 for workers and £450 for students. Presumably that figure is per year. This is intended to deter people from coming to the UK and encourage them to go elsewhere.
  • Student visa rules to be tightened yet further to reduce student numbers: p54.
  • Students will have to leave at end of course unless meet new higher requirements to stay on and work: p54.
  • Students will remain within net migration target: p54.
  • Migration from the EU will be reduced and controlled but “skilled workers” will still be able to enter: p55.
  • Unspecified “entitlements” of EU nationals in the UK will supposedly be protected: p34.

Next, the things that might happen but probably won’t:

  • Reduce asylum claims within the UK: p40. This is not within the control of the UK government but rather depends on international events.
  • Establish schemes to help individuals, charities, faith groups, churches and businesses to provide housing and other support for refugees: p40. This was previously promised but never delivered.

Lastly, the things that will definitely not happen but which show a general unpleasant intent:

  • A net migration target of “tens of thousands” is said to be an “objective”: p54.
  • Renegotiation of the definition of “refugee” in international law: p40.

The Conservatives could and should be getting hammered on broken promises, Brexit, the economy, the NHS and more. Instead, they are cruising to a landslide victory from which it may take 10 years for Labour to recover, if ever. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, this is on you.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.