Speech: Home Secretary Priti Patel speech on immigration

Home Office

May 25
15:02 2021

For too long for several decades in fact immigration was a democratic outlier.

And when politicians and commentators discussed immigration, we inevitability heard a discussion based on economics and culture.

A crucial principle which was overlooked, was the principle of democracy.

And it was seen as entirely proper for the British people to express their wishes at the ballot box on matters such as taxation, healthcare, education, pensions, international relations, the environment, and law and order.

And yet concerns about immigration its impact upon communities or control over immigration numbers or policy, would in some quarters be met with derision and scorn by parts of the political class.

Far too many politicians were indifferent to public opinion about this issue.

And too many were happy to assert that even raising the topic of immigration was racist.

It has taken a referendum and change in government for politicians to recognise that by choosing to ignore this issue, public frustration has also contributed and led to a reframing of this debate.

It is a fact that successive governments failed to control immigration and there are a whole number of reasons as to why.

The problems and unhappiness this caused by among the public became impossible for any politician to continue to ignore.

The British people voted to take back control of our borders in the 2016 EU referendum.

They then drove the message home again at the 2019 general election.

And political parties of every hue have an obligation and responsibility to face reality.

In 2016, the British people withdrew their consent to be governed - in part - by the European Union.

They also withdraw their support for a broken immigration system.

We, therefore, have a democratic mandate and imperative to fix it.

In addition to seeking to fix the broken system, we also have a responsibility to dispel many of the false myths and assertions around this issue.

Some still deny that immigration could ever be excessive, inanely claiming that it is only ever a question of adequate investment.

This is to deny reality.

People across the country do not want their communities and way of life to change beyond recognition.

And yet acknowledging this is not to be anti-immigration.

Neither I, the Prime Minister or our great country are anti-immigration.

And to those who say that I am they are wrong.

Instead they are seeking to sow dissent, rather than address the very concerns raised by the British public.

It is an undeniable fact that immigration has and continues to enrich - in every sense of the word - our nation immeasurably.

People from every part of the world are here in the UK and are making enormous contributions to our society, culture, economy, and individual lives.

We all cherish this. And I want this to be part of our national life and place in the world and for it to become stronger.

Immigration is part of my own story.

My family were forced from Uganda and they had the privilege to make a home in the UK.

They worked ferociously hard to keep a roof over our heads and secure a life for my family.

I owe them more than I can ever say.

I am a proud as a Briton and I am proud of my parents and of my British-Indian background.

And I join the millions of British Indians and children of migrant families who have established a life in one of the greatest countries in the world.

But there are many who struggle with this concept.

They do not speak for the silent majority who look to their government to establish appropriate measures and controls on who comes to and settles in the UK.

I believe in fairness and in law and order.

And I love our country just as much as someone whose great-great-grandparents were born here - and I want our nation to succeed.

The government is taking back control of immigration.

Because there is such a thing as too much immigration and such a thing as too little immigration.

And yes, the optimal level will be different at different times, and no, calculating it may not be an exact science.

That doesnt mean we should conclude it is hopeless.

The answer is to fix the system - to make it logical and fair.

The first thing we have done is restore public confidence in the immigration system.

Over the last few decades, public confidence in our broken system was shot to pieces.

But we have already taken a number of important steps, delivering on the election manifesto promises of ending free movement and introducing a new, points-based system.

We have published a fair but firm plan to stop people risking their lives on dangerous journeys to the UK, break the business model of people smuggling gangs, and speed up the removal of those with no legal right to be here.

But we know there is more to do.

The simple reality is it is not possible for everyone who wants to come and live here to do so.

The concept of open borders is a flawed one.

It would not be fair to the people of this country, whose taxes fund public services and who have made it clear that they want control.

It would not be fair to those fleeing torture and persecution who want to use safe and legal routes to get here.

The United Kingdom has a long, proud tradition of providing a home for people fleeing persecution and oppression

Such as, Jewish people escaping Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s.

Hungarians in the 1950s as the Soviet menace rolled in.

Exiled Ugandans in the 1970s.

Bosnians from the war-ravaged former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

And victims of the Syrian conflict in recent years.

The entire government is committed to a generous and compassionate approach to those in need.

And many of us have intensely personal reasons for feeling that way.

There is another wrong-headed approach to immigration that we must challenge.

And this is the fantasy approach.

It is sheer fantasy to say that we can give a home to anyone who wants to come here.

Currently, there are an estimated 80 million displaced people around the world.

As I have said before, our asylum system is fundamentally broken.

It is so unwieldy that the costs of the system have sky-rocketed to more than 1 billion this year.

Our New Plan for Immigration is key to fixing it.

It will improve the routes available to those in need, so they dont have to put their lives in the hands of people smugglers.

Refugees who make their home here will be given support - more support to integrate into the community, learn English, and become self-sufficient.

I want them not just to survive. I want them to thrive.

British nationality law has not changed since 1983 and it is now full of anomalies.

Under my plan, the Home Secretary will be able to grant citizenship in compelling and exceptional circumstances where someone has suffered historical unfairness beyond their control.

We are also taking action so that the Windrush generation are not prevented from qualifying for British citizenship because, through no fault of their own, they were unable to return to the UK and meet residence requirements.

Immigration practices and processes of successive governments badly let down the Windrush generation. I am utterly determined that this should not happen again.

And we will fix the injustice which prevents a child from acquiring their fathers citizenship if their mother was married to someone else at the time of their birth.

My hands will no longer be tied, by an out of date broken system.

Our plan will reduce the incentives for people to come here illegally, thereby removing the opportunity for criminal gangs to profit.

Allowing these repugnant gangs to continue to line their pockets is morally wrong and against our national interest.

The profits they make fuel other terrible crimes including modern slavery and extreme violence.

They use the same routes and methods to smuggle guns and drugs on to our streets.

And we are coming after these gangs.

Those responsible for these heinous crimes will face the full force of the law, with new maximum life sentences for people smugglers.

Since the start of 2020 we have secured more than 65 small boat related prosecutions totalling over 53 years in custodial sentences.

Despite those who want to maintain the status quo - we will continue to enhance our operational efforts against them, with greater powers for Border Force to stop small boats.

Small boat detections reached record levels last summer.

As this summer approaches and the weather improves, more people will be encouraged to make these dangerous crossings.

Just last week we have seen thousands of migrants entering the Spanish territory of Ceuta. Every day people are putting their lives at risk getting in small boats to cross the Mediterranean.

There is a desperate need to reform the global approach to ensure protection for those genuinely fleeing persecution so they can find sanctuary in the first safe country rather than place their lives in the hands of people smugglers.

The UK will provide leadership and do everything we can to prevent more lives being lost.

The next strand of our plan is about speeding up the removal of those with no legal right to be in the UK.

For too long, we have been frustrated by those who know how to play the system.

More than 10,000 foreign national offenders remain in

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