London Mayor Boris Johnson is breaking with his own party line by backing a new cross-party group of politicians, trade unionists and business leaders in launching a group campaigning for an “open and honest debate” about immigration.
The group fear that the immigration issue is being hijacked by extremists who preventing open debate, the Independent reports.
The Migration Matters Trust, supported by the Conservative London Mayor, will be launched in January, to challenge the “new anti-immigration consensus”, as an influx of new arrivals has brought complaints that the rights of native UK citizens are being overlooked.
Writing for The Independent on Sunday yesterday, two of the politicians behind the group warn that mainstream politicians must confront extremists on the immigration issue. But they also insist ethnic minorities must take part in the debate about how to handle the challenges posed by UK migration.
The former Labour minister Barbara Roche and the Conservative MP Gavin Barwell say: “We need to have a full, frank and honest discussion about immigration. But we also need to ensure Britain’s ethnic minority communities play a full part in that debate.”
News of the new group follows Labour leader, Ed Miliband’s speech last week in which he admitted that his own party in Government had done too little to integrate people who have settled in British society – and that Labour had made mistakes in tackling the “realities of segregation” in struggling communities.
British 2011 census figures showed that 13 per cent of residents of England and Wales were born outside the UK.
Migration Matters will confront “the challenges modern migration patterns pose to society”, but highlight the positive impact of immigration. In particular, it will warn that new rules requiring a migrant to be earning at least £31,000 a year if they want to stay in the UK will disqualify many of the brightest talents from around the world from coming to this country.
Rajesh Agrawal, a British-Indian whose company Rational FX is one of the world’s fastest-growing independent foreign exchange companies, said he would not have satisfied minimum-salary requirements when he arrived in the UK in 2001 with £200 in his pocket. He said: “I realise that you have to protect jobs. However, if the talent is not there then you have to get it from outside.”
UK immigrants and foreign students have faced a barrage of Immigration Rule changes, some of which are tearing families apart, designed to slash net migration to less than 100,000 by 2015.
Leading figures, such as the London Mayor and university heads, believe that overseas students should be excluded from migration targets because they add billions of pounds to the British economy and are not even long term immigrants.
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