After questions for the Leader of the House today, I was shocked to learn that the government are delaying the Parliamentary debate on the Immigration Bill even further.
One of the effects of the government’s determination to push ahead with their reckless Brexit strategy, is that the UK will need to have new immigration rules, technology and procedures in place by March next year. This is especially urgent if, as the government keep threatening, we crash out of the European Union without a deal. But it also adds to the ongoing uncertainty for a huge number of people. For EU citizens living in the UK, unsure about their rights after we leave the EU. For UK citizens living in EU countries. For businesses and public services that rely on the fantastic contributions that EU staff make. And for family and friends who are concerned that their loved ones can’t settle in the UK. We know this uncertainty is having an effect – some EU citizens and their families have already decided to leave the UK because of the lack of clarity from the government.
You might think that given how much the Leave campaign (mis)spoke about immigration, that the government would prioritise the legislation required to put any proposed new immigration system in place.
But we have seen nothing about the government’s plans for this legislation – the Immigration Bill. So today I asked the Leader of the House (who is responsible for scheduling debates and legislation in parliament) when MPs are likely to be given the opportunity to scrutinise, amend and vote on this crucial legislation. It is hugely frustrating that Andrea Leadsom indicated the government would be pushing this even further into the long grass – to the end of this year at the earliest.
Lobbying on the Immigration Bill is one of my major priorities for this parliamentary term. In particular, I’m working with colleagues from all parties to get the bill amended to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers are treated more humanely in our immigration processes (including by giving them the right to work, and ending the scandal of indefinite immigration detention).
I want to get started on this work, and use this as an opportunity to try and change UK immigration policy for the better. A responsible government would have acted long before now to alleviate the uncertainty which affects the millions of EU citizens living in the UK.
That the government continues to delay this bill is infuriating. And I will keep pressuring the government for a date to ensure that this crucial legislation gets the scrutiny it needs and deserves.
You can watch my question to Andrea Leadsom here: