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Express & Star comment: We are let down again on migration

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

The debate about migration in modern Britain is extremely difficult to have without falling prey to extremes of opinion.

'It is easy to see why immigration played such a major role in the EU referendum'

At one end of the spectrum, there are those who believe in fully-open borders, and allowing anyone from around the world who wishes to come here to settle.

At the opposite end, we have people who would be quite willing to pull up the drawbridge over the English Channel and have no more new arrivals whatsoever.

As ever, the most likely solution lies somewhere between the two views.

But reaching this point sensibly is challenging given the highly charged emotions the issue of immigration invariably stirs up. One thing that cannot be disputed, however, is the Government’s own figures.

Although the border authorities in the UK have been notoriously weak at monitoring the people who come in and out of the country, the latest statistics on net migration should at the very least provide the basis for a sensible debate.

For the West Midlands, the figures show a steady decrease in the rate of new arrivals in the 12 months after the June 2016 Brexit vote.

Not withstanding that, there were still around 30,000 people coming to live in the region from abroad over the same period.

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Bear in mind that this data only refers to EU nationals and does not include arrivals from Asia, Africa and other parts of the world.

Leaving aside social and cultural integration, one of the biggest challenges already facing the region is housing and where migrants might live. Added on to that, we must consider the ever-increasing burden on public services such as education and the NHS.

With this in mind, it is easy to see why immigration played such a major role in the EU referendum, and why many of those who voted for Brexit cited it as a key issue.

Sadly for all concerned, while the debate rages on among the aforementioned extremes of opinion, both the new arrivals and the communities they have been largely welcomed into are left to simply get on with it, without any clear help or direction from the Government.

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Indeed, with the Conservative administration’s appalling mismanagement of the Brexit issue, many of those new arrivals may well find themselves in limbo, unsure of what the future holds.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that we have seen seismic changes in the make-up of modern Britain since Tony Blair came to power in 1997.

In some areas of London, we are told that almost one in four of the population is made up of EU nationals.

The number of people there from other areas of the world will further alter the demographic map of those areas.

Meanwhile, Theresa May’s Government is desperately trying to wriggle out of its commitment to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.

This is a ball park figure that Home Secretary Sajid Javid appears unwilling to subscribe to, while Cabinet heavyweight Liam Fox has suggested it could be scrapped entirely.

Certainly, the latest figure of 270,000 is way off the bold claim that was included in the Tories doomed manifesto from last year’s election.

It does not seem to matter what the target is.

Border controls, as well as a coherent plan for new arrivals to this country, appear almost non-existent at times.

It is yet another example of how we are being failed by those in public office.

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