As one of the closest fought election campaigns for years comes to a close tomorrow immigration remains one of the key issues.
Although some of the polls are predicting an outright overall majority, when the British people cast their vote on 6 May, it is probably David Cameron’s Conservative party which will form the next Government.
So what can we expect from David Cameron on immigration?
The Conservatives has pledged to ‘reduce net immigration to the levels of the 1990s’ primarily through imposing an annual cap on non-EU immigration.
They have also promised to ‘crackdown on illegal immigration by introducing a dedicated Border Police Force and tighten up the student visa system, which they say is the ‘biggest hole in our border controls’.
The party website devotes a section – ‘Where we Stand’ – to immigration and outlines the following policies pledges:
Britain can benefit from immigration, but not uncontrolled immigration. Look at any aspect of life today and you will see the contribution that migrants have brought, and not just to the economy. We want to continue to attract the brightest and the best people to the UK, but with control on the overall numbers coming here.
A Conservative government will reduce net immigration to the levels of the 1990s – tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands a year under Labour.
Our immigration policy is based on four strands:
- We will introduce an annual limit on the numbers of non-EU economic migrants allowed to work here, taking into consideration the effects a rising population has on our public services and local communities. The limit would change each year to take into account the wider effects of immigration on society;
- We will work to prevent illegal migration with a dedicated Border Police Force to crack down on illegal immigration and people trafficking;
- We will introduce important new rules to tighten up the student visa system, which at the moment is the biggest hole in our border controls; and
- We will promote integration into British society. There will be an English language test for anyone coming here from outside the EU to get married.
A Conservative government would also apply transitional controls as a matter of course for all future EU entrants.
Source: Conservative Part website.
The Conservatives need to win at least 326 seats to have an overall majority and form the next Government. Many are predicting that there will be a ‘hung’ parliament with no party gaining enough seats to hold a majority.
Should the UK have the first hung parliament since the seventies it would mean that Cameron or Brown would have to turn the Nick Clegg’s Liberal Party to form an alliance. In this case Nick Clegg would be able to influence government policy on a range of issues including immigration and electoral reform.
Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister should not forget the economic benefits and energy which migrant workers and students bring to the UK.
Students alone are worth £8 billion to the UK economy, according to Home Office figures, and working migrants are only taking jobs which employers cannot fill locally or which British workers do not want.