The crisis over mass migration
In Britain and Europe, what's been denounced as “far right” turns out to be mainstream
This is an expanded version of my column in The Times (£) of London yesterday.
The British government is thrashing around trying to rescue its scheme to deport to Rwanda the unstoppable stream of migrants arriving on unseaworthy vessels in the people-trafficking racket across the English Channel.
That’s migration through a distinctly irregular route. But this is only a small part of the immigration crisis now facing Britain and much of Europe.
The massive and uncontrolled rate of immigration into the UK, through both legal and irregular routes, is the most important issue for most of the British people, surpassing even the cost of living. Yet the incomprehension, inertia and incompetence with which the British government is dealing with this at every level defies belief.
This was illustrated today by an excruciating vignette from the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. The Conservative Party deputy chairman and MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson, asked the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary, Sir Matthew Rycroft, how many migrants who had been refused asylum after arriving on the small boats across the Channel had been sent back to their own countries or to a third country over the past three years.
Sir Matthew and his team didn’t know. Remorselessly and with rising incredulity, Anderson asked for the figures for the last year; for the last six months; for the last month. As committee eyebrows increasingly shot up, the officials nervously shuffled their papers and stammered that they would “send these figures on” to the committee. They clearly didn’t have a clue.
Legal migration totals have now hit an eye-watering high. Provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, in the year ending last June, 672,000 more people came into the country than left it.
This is a staggering rise from a net migration rate of 212,000 a decade ago. If this rate continues, by the year 2046 the UK’s population will increase from approximately 67 million people today to about 85 million, adding a population the size of Birmingham every few years.
The pressure on housing, schools and health services will be simply unsustainable. In addition, with so many coming from countries which don’t share cultural values or historic links with the west, the country’s character will be transformed in ways for which the public has never voted.
Earlier this month Steven Edgington, the Telegraph’s video comment editor, posted on X/Twitter a comment by an anonymous (and therefore unverified) Home Office official which might shed light on the lamentable performance by the government in addressing the immigration crisis.