Priorities for Government

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:48 am on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 11:48 am, 25th July 2019

As the hon. Lady will know very well, I have answered the question on Heathrow. I remain deeply concerned about the abilities of the promoters of the third runway to meet their obligations on air quality and noise pollution. I will follow the court cases with a lively interest.

As for the amnesty on illegal immigrants, it is absolutely true that I have raised it several times since I was in Government, and I must say, it did not receive an overwhelming endorsement from the previous Prime Minister when I raised it once in Cabinet. I think that our arrangements, in theoretically being committed to the expulsion of perhaps half a million people who do not have the correct papers, and who may have been living and working here for many, many years without being involved in any criminal activity at all—I think that legal position is anomalous. We saw the difficulties that that kind of problem occasioned in the Windrush fiasco. We know the difficulties that can be caused and I do think—I will answer the hon. Lady directly—that we need to look at our arrangements for people who have lived and worked here for a long time, unable to enter the economy and to participate properly or pay taxes, without documents. We should look at it. The truth is that the law already basically allows them an effective amnesty—that is basically where things have settled down —but we should look at the economic advantages and disadvantages of going ahead with the policy that she described, and on which I think she and I share a view.