FOR the first time Ipsos Mori has found that immigration is as important to voters as the economy. The poll is timely, as this week the Immigration Bill was again in the Commons.
The Bill was designed to limit immigrants’ access to services, medical care and jobs. Under its provisions, EU migrants must wait longer for benefits, and pay for services from the NHS.
Unfortunately, there were so many amendments to the Bill that, though most are to be welcomed, few will be enacted.
This is regrettable because I supported two amendments in particular. The first, by Nigel Mills MP, aims to reinstate the transitional arrangements for Bulgarian and Romanian migrants, which were lifted on December 31.
From that moment, citizens from the EU’s two most recent ‘accession countries’ had full employment rights in the UK.
The poll shows what most voters think of that, as does the rise of Ukip.
The second amendment, by Dominic Raab MP, makes it mandatory to deport foreigners who receive a prison sentence of a year or longer. Currently, under Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, 89 per cent of appeals against deportation are successful because of a criminal’s ‘right to a family life’ if they have relatives here.
Mr Raab rightly describes this as the ‘biggest human rights problem we’ve got’.
Meanwhile, at present rates of growth, our population will hit an unsustainable 70 million by 2027.
Immigration is a sovereign matter and it is we who should decide who comes here and issue visas accordingly.
However, the EU makes that impossible and now that the referendum bill is all but sunk in the Lords, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to control our borders for many years to come.