Mouth, Trousers, and the European Immigration Cap

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London suggested the idea.   Now No. 10 is letting it be believed  that it is considering a cap on immigration to the UK from the EEA.

It is hard to see how such a proposed cap could be consistent with the central treaty commitment of free movement [Ed- immigration barrister says a simple overall cap would not be lawful]. Whilst some other European nations are hearing similar anti-Euro-immigration rhetoric from their politicians, the promises made are different in kind.

In Germany, for example, there is talk about limiting the period for which immigrants can stay whilst unemployed (possibly through careful construction of the Treaty concept of exercise of treaty rights). In France there is talk of cracking down on “abus”of  social security benefits (the European laws on benefits are very much more flexible than those on free movement).

This is more than just a difference of opinion. Imposing a cap in the way suggested would require a change to the Treaty and this is impossible without unanimity. French PM has stated unequivocally that he would not support such a change. And others may express the same view (if asked).

Ourtgoing European Commission president José Manuel Barroso stated an arbitrary cap on immigration into Britain will never be accepted by the European Union…  it would give rise to first and second class citizens within the EU and would not be agreed by member states.

So, what are the Torys on about? Did they forget about the Treaty obligation? Do they expect the rest of Europe to follow its iead? Do they need to consult their own immigration lawyers, or is this just another “great deceit”, a cheap ploy to win naive political support?

thanks id iom
thanks id iom

This immigration blog post: Immigration Lawyer Jeremy Chipperfield, practising from the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, Chancery Lane, also writes at Immigration Barrister website

Coup de Grâce Imminent? Immigration, Visas and a Ticket to No 10

Boris enters the ring for the third time, carrying a small red cape. He stares Cameron in they eye, taunting him with the cape and goading him to react. Under the cloth, he grips his weapon- the immigration debate.

Weakened by the humiliation of last week’s by-elections  and the prospect of more of the same from Rochester on November 20th, the Tory leadership was already hurting. Then, still bruised from the  UKip defections, and amidst dissatisfied murmuring from his once loyal audience, David Cameron has had to endure a vicious, barbed attack from behind- from those whom he might have hoped he could trust.

Despite Boris’ faintly ridiculous presentation (that well-crafted, charismatic Façade) this is a serious matter and London’s Mayor has mortal intent. Last week he told us (via David Marr) that the Tory manifesto pledge to cut immigration by 100,000 was a “great deception”. Now he he informs us via The Telegraph that Cameron’s UK immigration system is “out of control” and that Britain has become a “magnet for the hordes at Calais”.

With a flourish, he shows his superiority over his poor dumb opponent and reveals the simplicity of the dilemma it faces:- We can get our traditional Tory voters back, he says, if we just impose quotas for EU migration. Olé!

[Immigration barrister note: Yea, but:  there is no legal way, within the EU, to impose quotas on community citizens entering the UK].

The practicalities are unimportant. Because politics is about getting power and power is about getting votes, and votes can be got by the flamboyant actions, and overblown promises of larger-than-life personalities. By the time the lies and consequences are revealed- well, its too late. The careers of the more thoughtful (and principled?) discussants will lie broken and defeated, alongside the promises of the moment.

Whilst there is nothing surprising here, what is interesting is the marked increase in tempo- a dual attempt to stir the crowd generally into a frenzy of immigration hatred, and Tory Supporters in particular, into intolerable feelings of discontent with their current leadership. One thing is surely clear- Boris smells blood, and senses a leadership competition coming soon.

Love and Marriage; Horse and Carriage; “Immigrant” and “Illegal”; “Asylum-seeker” and “failed”; Politicians and unprincipled, power-hungry egotists.

Cruel Bullfight Barbaric primitive
Photo: thanks Mait Jüriado

This immigration blog post: Immigration Lawyer Jeremy Chipperfield, practising from the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, Chancery Lane, also writes at Immigration Barrister website