The government’s new immigration rules threaten London’s diversity and will maul London’s economy.
The policy paper outlining the new rules trumpets “the end of free movement” like it was some kind of great reform.
In fact, it’s just a sop to England’s anti-immigrant lobby. Ex-Tory minister Stephen Dorrell has called it “the worst kind of dog-whistle politics”.
Here in London, we’re not such suckers for dog-whistles. We value our diversity. We value our international connections. And we have no particular objection to newcomers, be they from abroad or from the rest of the UK. Already, the Home Office is coming down on Londoners with overseas connections, often even when they were born and bred right here. This new policy will make matters a lot worse.
Because of its diversity and its place in the world, London attracts dynamic, go-ahead people from across the globe. That attraction will now be hamstrung. Already our hospitals are desperately short-staffed, and business leaders have warned of labour shortages in the care sector, the hospitality sector, the tourist industry and the building trade.
With a dire housing shortage, London’s building industry needs to get busy, but over half of its workforce are migrant workers, many now likely to be shut out of London by England’s government. Meanwhile, skilled workers, scientists, technicians and NHS staff are already deterred by a hostile environment which has targeted everyone from cab drivers to doctors and academics.
These new immigration rules, designed to placate England’s anti-immigrant lobby, are a disaster for London. More clearly than ever, London needs to be free of England’s anti-immigrant hysteria, and free to set its own immigration policy, regardless of what England does.