Foreigners, foreigners and more foreigners

David Lammy on Brexit:
‘be angry at the chancers who sold you a lie’

One of my biggest complaints about Remainers is that, when discussing the issue of the end of free movement between Britain and the EU, instead of emphasising the benefits to Britain and British people both of free movement for ourselves and of the contribution European workers make, they try to deflect the discussion by contrasting European immigration with immigration from elsewhere. The most prominent example was Tony Blair who, in a speech in February 2007, contrasted beneficial immigration from the EU from immigration where “different cultures in which assimilation and potential security threats can be an issue”. He opined that this was the sort of immigration people really care about (because this is what certain members of the chattering classes agitated about in the early 2000s). So, imagine my disappointment when none other than David Lammy appealed to the same sentiment in the Commons in a video published by Channel 4 yesterday, informing anyone who voted for Brexit to stem immigration that it would do the opposite:

Most MPs must now recognise it in private but do not say it in public. Brexit is a con, a trick, a swindle, a fraud, a deception that will hurt most of those people it promised to help, a dangerous fantasy that will make every problem it claimed to solve worse. A campaign won on false promises and lies. Vote Leave and Leave.EU both broke the law. Russian interference is beyond reasonable doubt and by now, every single campaign promise made in 2016 has become unstuck. Brexit will not enrich our NHS; it will impoverish it. Our trade deal with Donald Trump will see the US corporations privatise and dismantle the NHS one bed at a time. And even those promises on immigration, which has so greatly enriched our country, are a lie. After Brexit, immigration will go up, not down. When we enter into negotiations with countries like India and China, they will ask for three things: visas, visas and more visas, and they will get them because we will be weak.

It’s depressing, to say the least, to see a progressive Labour MP appeal to people who think their jobs are all going to (white) eastern Europeans and/or don’t want them here by telling them that their country is going to be flooded with dark-skinned Indians and Chinese instead. It has become notoriously difficult to get a British visa in recent years with people applying to come here to speak at conferences, attend weddings, receive vital medical treatment or play at festivals being refused for utterly spurious reasons, as well as those fleeing persecution. This pre-dates the Cameron/May “hostile environment” but certainly got worse during that period. These things too impoverish our country and are causing conference organisers to consider venues in more welcoming societies. Demands for a more liberal visa regime might be one of the consequences of Brexit but they have strong justifications and should not be used for coded appeals to racism, especially at a time when some people really do see the effect, or even the intention, of allowing unrestricted European immigration as keeping people like them out.

Image source: Chris McAndrew - Gallery:, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 3.0) licence.

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