Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 5:29 pm, 28th January 2019

In conclusion, the Home Secretary said in the debate on the withdrawal deal:

“Concern over uncontrolled immigration from the EU was a major factor in the decision to leave the EU.”—[Official Report, 11 January 2019;
Vol. 652, c. 698.]

Who whipped up that concern? Could it have been the political party that introduced completely bogus immigration targets—targets that have never been met, were never intended to be met and were just a vehicle for anti-immigrant sentiment and targets that the current Home Secretary seems unwilling to stand by? Could it have been whipped up by the “Go home” vans? I saw them driving through my constituency in east London, and I have to tell the Home Secretary—in case he is not aware—that they represent a low point in our migration policy, having been designed to intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of people who were here perfectly legally.

Or was the concern whipped up by the introduction of the hostile environment? I would be the first to say that some of its elements were introduced under a Labour Government, but the majority were brought in post 2010, when the current Prime Minister was Home Secretary, and I voted against the legislation. As a consequence of the hostile environment, sick people were denied cancer treatment, which horrified the public when they read about it for the first time, and people were evicted from their homes because they could not get the benefits they were entitled to. People were detained—I met women detained under the hostile environment on my visit to Yarl’s Wood last year—and deported, and people who had gone home to the Caribbean for a holiday—