Suella Braverman proved it again: racism is a fire the Tories love to play with

Over the top commentary but elements of truth and unfair to conflate recent politicians with those living in a different time and context, with many similarities in various countries:

Last Friday, an 82-year-old woman wrapped up warm and set off on a 200-mile round trip for a meeting that she half suspected wouldn’t even let her in. As you read this, the film of her speaking that evening has been viewed more than five million times. Which is odd, because it’s not much to look at: a wobbly side-view of a woman with white hair, intense closeups of grey cardigan. Bridgerton this is not.

But it’s the words that count. Joan Salter has got herself down to Hampshire for a public meeting with the home secretary, and now it is her turn to ask a question. As a child survivor of the Holocaust, she hears Suella Braverman demean and dehumanise refugees and it is a reminder of how the Nazis justified murdering Jews like her. So why do it?

Even as the words come out, Braverman’s face freezes. The evening so far has been a Tory activists’ love-in, which, Salter tells me later, made her nervous about being the sole dissenter. But then the home secretary responds, “I won’t apologise for the language I’ve used” – and a disturbing truth is exposed about what Britain has become.

Braverman labels those seeking sanctuary in Britain an “invasion”. Quite the word, invasion. It strips people of their humanity and pretends they are instead a hostile army, sent to maraud our borders. Her junior minister Robert Jenrick once begged colleagues not to “demonise” migrants; now he stars in videos almost licking his jowls over “the Albanians” forced on to a flight to Tirana. Salter is right to say such attitudes from the top fuel and license extremists on the ground. We saw it after the toxic Brexit campaign, when Polish-origin schoolchildren in Huntingdon were called “vermin” on cards left outside their school gates, as race and religious hate crimes soared that summer.

Today, the air is once again poisonous. Far-right groups have been visiting accommodation for asylum seekers, trying to terrify those inside – many of whom have fled terror to come here – often before sharing their videos on social media. The anti-fascist campaigners Hope Not Hate recorded 182 such jaunts last year alone, culminating in a petrol bomb tossed at an asylum centre in Dover by a man with links to far-right groups and who would post about how “all Muslims are guilty of grooming … they only rape non-Muslims”.

Unlike those big men in their big boots frightening innocent people, Salter isn’t chasing social media clout. The grandmother wants to warn us not to return to the times that sent her, at the age of three, running with her parents across Europe in search of sanctuary. She does make a mistake in yoking the home secretary to the term “swarms”. As far as I can see, this figurehead for the new Tory extremism has yet to use that vile word. But I can think of a Tory prime minister who has used that word: David Cameron, the Old Etonian never shy of blowing on a dog whistle, who made a speech denouncing multiculturalism even as Tommy Robinson’s troops marched on Luton. And Margaret Thatcher talked of how the British felt “rather swamped” by immigrants. In those venerable names from the party’s past lies the big picture about the Conservatives’ chronic addiction to racist politics.

Source: Suella Braverman proved it again: racism is a fire the Tories love to play with

Ford: Britons have wised up to the benefits of immigration. It’s about time politicians did too

Will see how immigration continues to play out in UK political strategies:

For political veterans, the recent arguments over immigration have a very familiar feel: dire warnings of crisis as official statistics show record numbers of people coming to Britain to work, study and join their families, while a dysfunctional Home Office struggles to cope with a new wave of refugees; a beleaguered government pledging to clamp down, yet lacking the means or will to do so. All are familiar plot lines from past political dramas on immigration 10 or even 20 years ago. The political responses are predictable too – social conservatives thunder about the failure, yet again, to deliver the swingeing cuts they claim voters demand. Liberals prevaricate and change the subject, afraid their arguments are doomed to fail with a sceptical electorate. All the players are locked into the same old roles. None of them seems to realise the script has changed.

One of the most remarkable, yet least remarked upon, changes in politics over the past decade has been the dramatic liberal shift in public opinion on immigration. The decades-long tendency to see immigration as a problem to be controlled is now in rapid decline. The rising view is that immigration is a resource that can deliver gains for all. A majority now see immigration as economically and culturally beneficial, as a driver of economic recovery and a vital source of support for public services. The share of voters who say migration levels should stay the same or increase has never been higher, even as migration has hit record highs.

The public now favours increased recruitment of migrants across a wide range of economic sectors, from the NHS and social care to fruit pickers and pint pullers. Some of the largest positive shifts have come in low-paid sectors struggling with shortages, such as catering and construction. Voters see a case for more migration in practically every economic sector asked about. Only migrant bankers are unwanted.

Like all big changes, this liberal shift has many sources. Demographic change is moving Britain slowly in a liberal direction on many fronts – inherently more migration-sceptical groups are shrinking a little every year, while pro-migration groups grow. Yet the change of the past decade is too broad and fast for population shifts alone to explain. Brexit may be another part of the story – voters approve of the post-Brexit points-based system, which applies equally to all labour migrants, and post-Brexit labour shortages have underlined the economic importance of migrant labour. The Covid and post-Covid period may also have generated a wider direct experience of the vital and often high risk work migrants do, from the NHS and social care, to transport and home-delivery services.

The more moderate and pragmatic public mood is not evident in government rhetoric. The Conservatives are constrained by their heavy reliance on migration sceptics attracted to the party since Brexit by the promise to “take back control”. Fears of an anti-immigrant backlash lock the party into hardline language and proposals, yet fears of an anti-austerity backlash ensure these remain empty gestures. The government needs migrant workers yet cannot bring itself to say so. Likewise, the Rwanda plan for asylum seekers is obviously unworkable yet no one in government can admit it.

This approach is now failing on numerous fronts. Voters have noticed the yawning chasm between Conservative words and deeds. Eight out of 10 disapprove of the government’s record, an all-time low. Even those who approve of the Rwanda scheme see it as gesture politics, expensive and doomed to fail. Nigel Farage remains a more attractive option for migration hardliners, while years of draconian rhetoric have alienated swing voters who now favour a more moderate approach. The Conservatives’ reputation on immigration has been trashed across the board – for decades they led Labour by large margins as the best party to handle the issue. Now Labour is favoured in most polls, the only Tory consolation being that most voters distrust both the parties equally.

A floundering government and a warming public should present opportunities for progressive politicians to make the case for open migration. So far, Labour’s response has been circumspect – balancing recognition of migrants’ economic contributions with calls for business to do more to raise the skills, productivity and wages of British workers. Yet caution brings its own risks. Tough language and vague policy may be prudent on the campaign trail, but risk storing up problems once in government.

A Labour government, like the current Conservative one, will rely on migrant contributions to grow the economy and staff public services. The party needs to make the case in opposition for the reforms it will need in government. It has made a start, pledging to make the current points-based selection system more responsive to changing economic and social needs and to junk the expensive, performative cruelty of the Rwanda scheme. Labour could go further, for example, by promising root-and-branch reform of the toxic “hostile environment” and by offering a new deal to migrants who make their lives here with liberalised citizenship rules, implemented by a swifter, cheaper and more transparent migration bureaucracy.

Labour’s instinct to tread carefully is understandable – the party has been bruised by immigration before, the public is still wary and liberalism on migration remains more prevalent in the big city seats the opposition already holds than the rural or small town seats it needs to win. Yet such risks can be overstated – the Tory voters most open to Labour are pragmatic moderates who see immigration as beneficial. The Conservatives, distrusted by voters, and terrified of a Farageist revolt on their right, cannot contest the new centre ground. Labour has a once in a generation opportunity to change the conversation on immigration. It may be a risk worth taking.

Robert Ford is co-author with Marley Morris of a new report, A New Consensus? How Public Opinion has Changed on Immigration, published by the Institute for Public Policy Research

Source: Britons have wised up to the benefits of immigration. It’s about time politicians did too

UK: Rishi Sunak mulling curbs on overseas students after immigration rise

Another related article. Canada could benefit from a greater emphasis on “quality degrees” and institutions given how a large part of the international student population is becoming a source of low skilled and low paid labour:

The government is looking at introducing new restrictions on ‘low quality’ degrees and preventing foreign applicants from bringing family members to the UK with them.

Curbs being considered by Downing Street could see international students barred unless they gain access to a high-ranking university.

The move was briefed after it emerged net immigration hit a new high, 12 years after David Cameron pledged to bring numbers down to the ‘tens of thousands’.

Around 504,000 more people are estimated to have moved to the UK than left in the 12 months to June 2022, up sharply from 173,000 in the year to June 2021.

People arriving on study visas accounted for the largest proportion of long-term immigration of non-EU nationals, at 277,000, or 39% of the total, according to the Office for National Statistics.

There was a significant rise in students coming to the UK after a few years of lower numbers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ONS said ‘unique’ factors such as visa schemes from Ukrainian and Hong Kong citizens had also contributed to the increase.

In the Autumn Budget published earlier this month, the government said it expected immigration levels to return to pre-pandemic levels once ‘these temporary factors ease over time’.

The prime minister’s spokesperson said he is ‘fully committed’ to reducing immigration and blamed ‘unprecedented and unique circumstances’ for the rise.

They added: ‘We’re considering all options to make sure the immigration system is delivering, and that does include looking at the issue of student dependents and low-quality degrees.’

Home secretary Suella Braverman has previously complained about foreign students ‘bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa’ and ‘propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions’.

The move could potentially meet resistance from within the education department, which would be faced with a funding headache if numbers were restricted.

Overseas students paying higher rates than domestic applicants have become a major funding stream for universities and there is pressure on departmental budgets due to inflation and fiscal tightening from the Treasury.

There could also be friction with the Treasury which will be opposed to any immigration changes which risk stifling growth.

Despite higher levels of migration to the UK since Brexit, the UK is struggling with skills and labour shortages in a number of industries.

Confirmed the UK will enter a recession, chancellor Jeremy Hunt last week insisted that immigration is required to boost growth.

He said: ‘There needs to be a long-term plan if we’re going to bring down migration in a way that doesn’t harm the economy.

‘We are recognising that we will need migration for the years ahead – that will be very important for the economy.’

Source: Rishi Sunak mulling curbs on overseas students after immigration rise

UK: Rishi Sunak faces Tory backlash over record immigration figures

Of note:

Rishi Sunak faces backlash from Conservative MPs after new figures showed net migration to the UK soaring to a record high, with 504,000 more people arriving in the country than departing over the past year.

“Unprecedented” global events including the lifting of Covid lockdowns, war in Ukraine and the Chinese security clampdown in Hong Kong sent immigration figures soaring.

At 1.1 million, the total number of arrivals in the 12 months to June was the highest since statistics were first gathered in 1964 and far outweighed the 560,000 departures, despite the fact that for the first time since 1991 more EU nationals left the UK than arrived.

Even after allowing for humanitarian schemes for Ukrainians and Afghans, the figures gave additional weight to the observation that Brexit has not reduced overall migration, as many supporters of the Leave campaign hoped.

Instead, the figures suggest that the result of EU withdrawal has been to alter patterns of migration to the UK, with departing Europeans replaced by nationals of countries like India, Nigeria and China who dominate the tables of work and study visas.

More than 20 Conservative MPs are believed to have signed a letter to Mr Sunak demanding action to bring overall migration numbers down.

Organised by Sir John Hayes – the chair of the Common Sense Group of traditionalist Tories and a close ally of home secretary Suella Braverman – the letter calls on ministers to get a tighter grip on the system for work and study visas, as well as clamping down on unauthorised Channel crossings by boat.

Home Office figures showed an 87 per cent increase to 381,459 in the number of work visas issued over a 12-month period, while visas to study rose by 38 per cent to 597,827. Both figures were more than double pre-Brexit levels.

Sir John said the influx of migrants was placing pressure on the UK’s environment, housing and infrastructure and “displacing” homegrown workers from jobs and training.

“The home secretary has been very open and honest and straightforward about the need for robust action to take control of our borders in relation to small boats,” he told The Independent. “There is a similar job to be done to retake control of visas, which I think are out of control now.”

The scale of immigration flew in the face of a promise in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto – endorsed by Mr Sunak since his arrival at 10 Downing Street – to get overall numbers down, said Hayes.

Responding to the ONS figures on Thursday, Ms Braverman said the record number of people arriving in the UK was “thanks to the generosity of the British people” towards Ukrainians, Afghans and Hong Kong holders of BNO (British national overseas) passports.

“The public rightly expect us to control our borders and we remain committed to reducing migration over time in line with our manifesto commitment,” said the home secretary, who in October told the Conservative conference her personal ambition was to reduce net migration below 100,000.

“My priority remains tackling the rise in dangerous and illegal crossings and stopping the abuse of our system.”

Downing Street said Mr Sunak remained committed to reducing net migration but has not set “a specific timeframe” for achieving the goal. The prime minister’s official spokesman blamed “some unprecedented and unique circumstances” for the record figures.

ONS deputy director Jay Lindop said that a significant driver in the figures was migration from non-EU countries by students, who are no longer forced to work remotely by Covid lockdowns.

An estimated 277,000 arrived in the UK over the past year, an increase from 143,000 in the year before.

The numbers also revealed a growing backlog in dealing with asylum claims, with 117,400 awaiting an initial decision, of whom almost 80,000 have been waiting more than six months.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the statistics revealed “serious problems with Conservative mismanagement of the immigration and asylum systems where they have completely failed to get a grip”.

Ministers have failed to tackle the criminal gangs organising Channel crossings and have managed to process the claims of only 2 per cent of the people arriving in small boats over the course of the last year, she said.

“Work visas have also substantially increased as a result of major skills shortages in the UK – yet the Conservatives are not taking any serious action to address skills shortages here at home,” said Ms Cooper.

Maria Stephens, head of campaigns at charity Refugee Action, said that the “snowballing delays in processing asylum claims are destroying lives”.

And Amnesty International called for a “complete overhaul” of the asylum and immigration system, saying that the government should provide safe routes for people seeking to come to Britain.

The organisation’s refugee and migrant rights director, Steve Valdez-Symonds, said: “These figures show the UK’s system for processing asylum claims remains in complete disarray.”

But leading Tory Brexiteer Peter Bone defended the government’s record, telling The Independent: “The fact that we are taking in people from Hong Kong, from Afghanistan and especially from Ukraine is the right thing to do.

“The point is that we are controlling our borders and we are making the decisions, not the EU. Imagine what the figures would have been if we still had free movement of people. That is what Brexit was about – it was never about having no immigration.”

“Student numbers may be rising, but most of them will go back to their home countries. The government’s priority must be stopping the illegal migration by boat across the Channel.”

Source: Rishi Sunak faces Tory backlash over record immigration figures

UK: More relaxed immigration policies could win over swing voters, analysis finds

Of note and to watch:

Public opinion on immigration has warmed “at a striking rate” and adopting a more liberal approach would help both Labour and the Conservatives win over more swing voters, new analysis suggests.

Conventional wisdom in Westminster has long been that tougher border policies are rewarded at the ballot box, with Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer winning praise from Ukip founder Nigel Farage on Tuesday after claiming the UK must end its “immigration dependency”.

But voters’ views of immigration have become increasingly positive since prior to the Brexit referendum, with Ipsos finding for the first time this year that – of those with an opinion on the matter – a majority now believe immigration levels should either increase or stay the same.

This contrasts strongly with the situation in February 2015, when 67 per cent wanted immigration reduced, versus just 20 per cent who wanted it to remain the same and 10 who wanted increased levels.

As a result, new analysis of swing voter intentions by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank suggests that the UK’s two largest political parties both would boost their electoral chances by adopting a more open immigration policy.

Source: More relaxed immigration policies could win over swing voters, analysis finds

UK: We must wean economy off immigration, Labour leader to warn businesses

Meanwhile, in Canada, the government takes the opposite tack with respect to ongoing increases in immigration levels, making it easier for businesses to employ Temporary Foreign Workers along with almost eliminating study requirement for international students given removal of work hour caps, the latter two reinforcing a low-pay model:

The days of “cheap labour” must end to wean the UK off its “immigration dependency”, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has told business leaders.

Sir Keir called for a plan to train British workers and move the economy away from its “low-pay model”.

But he accepted the need for skilled foreign workers and promise a “pragmatic” approach to immigration.

His speech comes at a time when businesses are calling for more migrant labour to boost economic growth.

The Labour leader’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in Birmingham followed that of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday.

Mr Sunak told business leaders having “proper control of our borders” was one of the immediate benefits of Brexit and said curbing illegal migration was the “country’s number one priority right now”.

He spoke after CBI director-general Tony Danker said the UK needed more foreign workers to drive economic growth as the country faces a deep recession.

“People are arguing against immigration – but it’s the only thing that has increased our growth potential since March,” Mr Danker said.

There was considerably less migration during the Covid-19 pandemic than in previous years and the number of EU citizens moving to the UK has dropped since the UK left the European Union.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecasted a decline in net migration, with the number expected to settle at 205,000 a year from 2026 onwards.

In his speech, Sir Keir set out what the UK’s immigration policy would look like under a Labour government, should the party win the next general election.

He promised an immigration system that works better for the needs of business and recognises the need for skilled workers from abroad.

But he stressed that any changes to a points-based migration system “will come with new conditions for business”.

“We will expect you to bring forward a clear plan for higher skills and more training, for better pay and conditions, for investment in new technology,” he said.

“But our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency. To start investing more in training up workers who are already here.”

Sir Keir outlined Labour’s plans for reform including:

  • Ensuring all employers able to sponsor visas are meeting decent standards of pay and conditions
  • Speed up visa delays to avoid labour shortages damaging the economy
  • Introduce training and plans for improving pay and conditions for roles that require international recruitment
  • Reforming the Migration Advisory Committee to project future trends more accurately

Sir Keir spoke about immigration in an interview with the BBC last week, saying the UK was recruiting too many people from overseas into the NHS.

Source: We must wean economy off immigration, Labour leader to warn businesses

Russian-founded immigration platform wins €1 million at Slush, spurring controversy over solidarity with Ukraine

Interesting. Surprising no one has developed a similar platform or app for Canada’s complex immigration system:

Immigram, a UK-based tech immigration platform, has won first prize at Slush, Helsinki’s yearly top tech event.  The Russian-founded startup will receive €1 million in investment coming from top global investors including Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed, NEA and Northzone.

Immigram had raised half a million just six months ago, earning trust from Joint Journey and Xploration Capital, two funds with Russian roots, and Mikita Mikado, a top Belarussian entrepreneur who fled his country and now lives in Silicon Valley.

The platform helps IT specialists and their future employers, as well as tech entrepreneurs, navigate the complex UK immigration system. It claims to lower applicants’ refusal rates and time/money losses, and to facilitate new comers’ settlement.

Immigram focuses on the UK Global Talent Visa, which is touted as “the only UK visa based on your experience not your job offer.”

Immigram’s co-founders Anastasia Mirolyubova and Mikhail Sharonov are immigrants themselves, having left Russia several years ago.

Does Russian IT emigration harm Ukraine?

Even though Immigram announced a $100,000 donation to a Ukrainian NGO, the attribution of the Slush prize to a Russian-founded startup shocked some pro-Ukrainian activists.

In a LinkedIn post, Polish VC Yaroslav Krempovych sees in Immigram an instrument for Russians to “escape the consequences of the economic strain imposed on Russia by international sanctions” by emigrating to the UK.

He finds unfair the fact that, “while some startup founders fight and die on the frontlines for the lives of their families and loved ones and their country’s freedom, others seek to assist Russians to escape the repercussions of their acts and inactions.”

According to ‘Olena M.,’ an HR professional from Kyiv, the matter is “absolutely shameful for such an organisation as Slush2022.” Equating the award to “support of genocide,” she hopes it “will have consequences for Slush itself as well as for all the investors who backed this project.”

Neither Krempovych nor ‘Olena M.’ seem to take into consideration the fact that emigration tools like Immigram tend to empty Russia from its best engineers. Hundreds of thousands of IT people have left the country since February 24, which is arguably weakening the Russian economy.

Source: Russian-founded immigration platform wins €1 million at Slush, spurring controversy over solidarity with Ukraine

Cohen: Britain’s National Trust must finally confront its colonial past

Of note:

In this old, storied kingdom, the Ark of the Covenant of history is the National Trust. Since 1895, it has been the custodian, interpreter and advocate of the past — lord and lady of a vast realm of lands, buildings and treasures.

With some six million members, it is the largest such organization in the world. Under its care are Tudor houses, thatched cottages and Norman castles, as well as churches, abbeys, monuments, mills, moors, woods and wetlands. The National Trust manages some 500 historic sites and 780 miles of coastline.

The affection of its loyalists reflects another of those characteristics — eccentricity, curiosity, restraint, humility — that define a people. The British cherish their past and its natural and physical representation. A visit to a great house such as Ickworth in East Anglia captures the experience of these places: a sprawling, well-preserved interior staffed by informed volunteers offering discourses on a Chippendale table or a stern family portrait. They stand cheerfully for hours in dim, drafty rooms.

Beyond are the grounds: a welter of paths and a variety of gardens, walled and Italianate. Broad lawns and ancient trees. Picnic spots. A statutory café offering simple, tasty fare. A giftshop selling handicrafts by local artisans.

In a crowded country, a day out at a great house or a parkland is one of life’s simple pleasures. Walkers in wellies and Barbour jacket roam everywhere, families sprawl on the grass by heaping hampers. A lone visitor sips a flask of tea under an oak, reading a well-thumbed Penguin classic. It is genteel and civilized, far from the economic and political disorder.

Now, though, the magical dominion of the National Trust is caught up in its own little drama, divided into camps with different views of history. The cultural wars over history, national identity and social change raging in Canada and the United States have crossed the Atlantic.

The trouble began two years ago when the Trust commissioned a report examining the association between 93 of its properties and slavery and colonialism. It pointed fingers and proposed measures, such as unconscious-bias training for staff. In response, critics founded an organization called Restore Trust, challenging the charity to return to its founding aims, which, to them, is maintaining and restoring properties rather than embracing “wokeness.”

Political correctness has never seemed as prominent here as in urban Canada, where it is a high art, and coastal America, where it is a religion. In fact, the British upper class has long trafficked in casual prejudice.

Thirty years ago, an esteemed scholar could occasionally drop the “n” word in impolite conversation in the common room at a college in Cambridge. So could a senior British diplomat at dinner, offering salty observations about Jews even when talking to one.

What we see among traditionalists here is the reaction to a legitimate questioning of fortunes built on the spoils of the slave trade. Identifying and decrying these wrongs in historic properties is right. It’s the spirit behind the movement in the U.S. to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederates from streets and drop their names from military bases.

But it is a matter of balance. Lee’s statues should be taken down, offensive as they are, but they should go to a museum, where they can be explained.

Here, places cry out for a reckoning. Cliveden, for example, the sprawling estate of Lady Astor near London frequented by Edward VIII and George Bernard Shaw, became a notorious nest of appeasers and pro-Nazis in the 1930s. Shaw, like Edward, embraced a spirited anti-Semitism. If the National Trust has not addressed this — there is no mention in the booklet published by Cliveden House, the hotel on the property — it should.

Mature societies find a way to tell their whole story. Germany has done this admirably. The challenge is not to deny or ignore the truth, but to put it in context.

As chief steward of the nation’s past, this is the future of the National Trust.

Source: Cohen: Britain’s National Trust must finally confront its colonial past

ICYMI: Home Office reclassifies modern slavery as illegal immigration issue

Despite all the chaos in UK politics, the UK government still has time for further policy errors:

The Home Office has taken the modern slavery brief away from the minister responsible for safeguarding and classed it as an “illegal immigration and asylum” issue, updated online ministerial profiles show.

The move is seen as a clear sign that the department is doubling down on Suella Braverman’s suggestion that people are “gaming” the modern slavery system and that victims of the crime are no longer being prioritised.

The previous safeguarding minister, Rachel Maclean, had modern slavery on her official list of ministerial responsibilities but her successor, Mims Davies, has no mention of the crime on her list. Instead, modern slavery is listed at the bottom of the “illegal immigration and asylum” brief of immigration minister Tom Pursglove.

Under Theresa May, the government pledged to be world leaders in combating modern slavery but Braverman said last week that trafficking claims from “people gaming the system” were “derailing the UK’s policy on illegal migration”.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said: “The largest single group of modern slavery victims under the referral system last year were British children – including those who were exploited through county lines

“The evidence shows the majority of exploitation takes place in the UK rather than across borders.

“The government should be treating this as an enforcement and safeguarding issue and taking stronger action against the crime of modern slavery wherever it takes place.”

Charities working with victims say characterising the crime as an illegal immigration issue is dangerous. More than a quarter of all people identified as potential modern slavery victims are British, according to official statistics.

Olivia Field, head of policy at the British Red Cross, said: “Modern slavery is a crime that can impact people no matter where they are from or where they are in the world.

“From our work supporting people who have been through horrific experiences including sexual exploitation and human trafficking, we know there are urgent improvements needed to better protect and support survivors.

“So it doesn’t become any harder for people to get the help they need, we would urge the lens on tackling modern slavery to be a safeguarding one focused on protecting people impacted by this crime, as opposed to being treated as an immigration issue.”

Despite Braverman’s claims of people “gaming” the system, 97% of all modern slavery referrals concluded in the first half of this year were confirmed as genuine by the authorities.

The home secretary’s comments were contradicted by the chief executive of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Elysia McCaffrey, who said: “We don’t see people gaming the system … What we see is vulnerable people who are being exploited by opportunists and criminals.”

Kate Roberts, head of policy at Focus on Labour Exploitation, said: “Modern Slavery is a serious crime which is carried out against individuals and to see it as an immigration matter is wrong and is risky.

“Preventing and addressing modern slavery should take a person centred approach – starting with safeguarding and ensuring the rights of potential victims. While restricted or insecure immigration status can be abused by exploiters who use immigration detention as a threat against seeking help from the authorities, this is only one of many tools traffickers use, as evidenced by the fact that many British people are victims of trafficking.”

In another sign that the government is no longer prioritising tackling the crime, there has been no independent anti-slavery commissioner in post since Sara Thornton left in April, despite it being a legal requirement since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling the heinous crime of modern slavery and in the UK we have a world-leading response. However, it is clear people are abusing our system when they have no right to be here, in order to frustrate their removal.”

Source: Home Office reclassifies modern slavery as illegal immigration issue

UK Home secretary pledges to crack down on ‘unexamined drive’ towards multicultural Britain

Trying to change the channel after a disastrous mini-budget? Even more hardline that previous home secretaries. But again, a reminder that visible minorities and immigrants have diverse views:

In a sweeping speech which pledged to regain control of Britain’s borders and fight back against left-driven “identity politics”, Suella Braverman also said police in England will be given “all the powers necessary” to stop guerilla demonstrations and jail participants – and added that officers should never “take the knee” – a symbolic gesture against racism – or take part in any protests themselves.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Ms Braverman said she would create legislation to allow the government to send back refugees who crossed the Channel on small boats, or arrived in the UK helped by people smugglers, without giving them a chance to apply for asylum.

She told a fringe event at the conferrence earlier that it would be “her dream” to see a newspaper front page with a photo of a plane taking off to Rwanda with asylum seekers on board.

Unveiled earlier this year to heavy criticism, the scheme would send refugees who arrive in the UK and are considered “inadmissible” – ie have not arrived on a government-sanctioned scheme – to the African country, where they will stay if their application is granted.

“We cannot allow a foreign court to undermine the sovereignty of our borders,” she said, referring to a last-minute move by the European Court of Human Rights to stop the first plane of refugees from taking off in June. “We need to find a way to make the Rwanda scheme work.”

She said Britain needs to “cut down on the numbers” of migrants in the country, saying the current system was not “meeting the needs of our economy”.

“We mustn’t forget how to do things for ourselves,” she said. “There is absolutely no reason why we can’t train up enough of our own HGV drivers or fruit pickers. The way we build a high skilled high wage economy is by encouraging businesses to invest in capital and domestic labour not relying wholly on low skilled foreign workers.

She insisted that it was not “racist”, or “xenophobic or bigoted” to tackle immigration.

“This is the best place on earth to come and live,” she said, adding that her own parents had emigrated to the UK from Kenya and Mauritius. “But I feel that we are losing sight of the core values and the culture that made it so. The unexamined drive towards multiculturalism as an end in itself, combined with the corrosive aspects of identity politics, has led us astray.”

Ms Braverman also warned that the “left are attacking our profound elemental values”, to replace them with the “poison of identity politics”.

“When this poison seeps into the public sphere, it distracts our public servants from doing their real job,” she said. “And that’s why it’s not only wrong for the police to take the knee. It is wrong for them to join in with political demonstrations. It is wrong for biologically male police officers to strip search female suspects. And it’s not just that pandering to identity politics is a huge waste of time. They need to stick to catching the bad guys.”

Source: Home secretary pledges to crack down on ‘unexamined drive’ towards multicultural Britain