Prime Minister refuses to shut the door on open borders policy
17th July 2009: Less than two days after Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he was not in favour of a ceiling on the number of immigrants coming to Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown endorsed his views by categorically ruling out a limit.
Apparently taking into consideration the contribution of the immigrants to the economy, he asserted the country should continue to draw on the skills and talents of people around the world; and any attempt to put a cap on immigration would be “ineffective”.
Mr. Brown also indicated that Labour Government would do nothing to prevent the population from touching the 70 million mark within 20 years, as projected by the official figures.
With this, the seismic shift in Labour’s immigration policy has become all the more clear.
The Prime Minister has practically refused to shut the door on the open borders policy on the ground immigration was great for Britain.
His remarks are in sharp contrast with indications from Immigration Minister Phil Woolas that 70 million was the limit.
The Prime Minister, in fact, told the Commons Home Affairs Committee chairman and Labour MP Keith Vaz that Britain’s population even at 70 million would not be capped. Mr Vaz had asked the Prime Minister: “Your immigration minister has in the past suggested that there ought to be a cap on the number of people coming here … do you believe, as Prime Minister, there is a cap that it should be put at, say, 70 million?”
The assertion came during a meeting of House of Commons Liaison Committee. In his remarks to the committee of senior MPs, Mr. Brown confirmed the Government was committed to a continuous influx of migrant workers.
He said: “Let’s get the balance right here. We want to be a country that can draw on the skills and talents of people around the world. We want those people that come to our country to have a contribution they can make.”
Mr Brown also said the points-based system for assessing migrants’ skills was adequate.
“The points system creates the opportunity for us to be clear about the skills we need and whether we want them. We can adjust that system whenever it is necessary to do so.
“A cap ends up with proposals that exclude so many people and so many groups of people from that cap that it’s not an effective cap at all.”
Reacting to the development, his critics blamed the Prime Minister for his relaxed attitude towards the entry of migrants.
Former Labour minister Frank Field of the Commons Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration said Mr Brown’s comments clashed with the Government’s purported “British jobs for British workers” policy.
Sir Andrew Green, of the population think-tank Migrationwatch asserted unless major steps were taken to reduce immigration, the population would hit 70 million mark, and then 80 million…. The changes to the points-based system were inconsequential compared to what was needed.
Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green said Labour Government has lost control of the borders. He reiterated a Conservative government would set a limit to ensure public services were not put under additional pressure.