The Brexit vote & migration – Dreda Say Mitchell, you’ve been betrayed already

In her Guardian comment piece, author Dreda Say Mitchell, a Brexit supporter, says that she and other BAME Brits who voted leave did so partly because they wanted a fairer migration system for the UK, one that did not favour EU citizens over non EU citizens. She goes on to say that if Mrs May will not deliver that fairer migration system, then many BAME Brits who voted leave will feel betrayed.

Unfortunately, that betrayal is already evident. The vote in favour of Leave has been interpreted by Mrs May as a mandate to cut immigration and to reach that magical (mythical?) figure of 100,000 net migration per year. 

Non EU migration has been consistently higher than EU migration and the most recent figures put it at 170,000. So even if EU migration was stopped entirely (rather unlikely), the government would need to cut 70,000 from non EU migration and it appears they have every intention of doing that.  

Some who voted Leave believing it would make non EU migration much easier have already realised they were betrayed. For example, curry house bosses promised easier visas for curry chefs by Tory Leave campaigner Priti Patel MP have already realised they were deceived and are quite angry about it. And just in case there is any doubt, Labour MP Rupa Huq asked a question in parliament and was told there were no plans for the “curry chef visas” Ms Patel promised voters.

In criticising EU free movement, Ms Say Mitchell does not acknowledge that it is RECIPROCAL and that millions of Brits have gone to live in other EU countries. In addition, there are of course millions of BAME EU citizens and some of them have even come to live in the UK (I’ve met Germans of Turkish descent, Danes of Iranian background, Swedes of Korean background, and French citizens of North African heritage, to name but a few). There was and still is nothing preventing the UK government from having the same freedom of movement with non EU countries.

In addition, Ms Say Mitchell has also (like millions of people in this country to be fair) fallen for the lie that EU free movement was “uncontrolled” or even “uncontrollable”, which is patently false. EU free movement is conditional and the UK government could have chosen to impose those conditions, but never did.

Mrs May had six years in the Home Office to implement a system of control of EU free movement as other EU countries do (I experienced it myself as an EU migrant in Belgium), but she chose not to do so. 

I strongly suspect that Mrs May actively chose not to control EU free movement so she could use it as an excuse for her failure to get net migration down to 100,000. It also allowed Leave campaigners to claim that EU migration was "uncontrolled", that non EU migration had been hit as a result, and that voting Leave was the only way to remedy the situation. 

From her comment piece, it seems that Dreda Say Mitchell was convinced by that argument and believes that many BAME Brits who voted Leave were similarly convinced. She also gives the impression that this may have been decisive as she warns that BAME voters may "switch sides" if the promised fairer migration system is not delivered. 

Unfortunately, as far as the government and Leave campaigners are concerned, it doesn't matter if Dreda Say Mitchell and millions of other Leave voters now decide to "switch sides" because promises made (fairer migration, £350m a week for the NHS etc) are not delivered. The government has decided that the (second, non-legally binding) referendum on EU membership is set in stone and unlike other democratic decisions, it cannot be  revisited.  As a Liberal Democrat Remain campaigner, I disagree; any democratic decision that cannot be challenged through democratic means isn't democratic at all.

Mrs May's renewed emphasis on cutting immigration at any cost is perhaps an attempt to atone for her previous failure at the Home Office. And while it was clearly not intended as such, Ms Say Mitchell’s vote has greatly helped Mrs May in her endeavour.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.