Rhetoric that fits the purpose for Political Parties.
There has been a lot written in the past few weeks on Home Secretary Amber Rudd and her speech at the Conservative Party conference on the 4th October. I am just adding to all that really.
The crux of her problem is redefining the numbers of migrants to the UK; the ambition being reducing numbers from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands. This was an ambition that, under David Cameron, was not achieved. Even the Labour Party under Ed Milliband attempted to address immigration as one of its key policies (remember those awful red mugs).
Since then the concentration on her speech has resonated with accusations of fascism, vilifying foreign workers and comparisons to Mein Kampf. However, this has failed to unpick what is underlying the rhetoric of her speech. In other words it is too simplistic to throw predictable words rather than look at the deeper meaning.
For example, one of claims that Amber Rudd makes is that the UK withdrawl from the EU will go some way to help the number of migrants to the UK.
“Leaving the EU is just one part of the strategy”
I would suggest that, putting this point in her speech may be a quick fix for the Home Office if we do withdraw from the EU. Member states of the EU have a right to freedom of movement for employment and residency. Directive 2004/38/EC introduces a basic EU member citizen who has the right to reside and work in a host member state for the first three months. If the worker wishes to reside longer they may have to register their residency but cannot be time period discriminated. They cannot be discriminated against in employment rights because of their movement from another EU country. Equally they cannot be discriminated against on language barriers.
Therefore I would argue that if there is freedom of movement and we as the UK are and have been a member state of the EU why are EU citizens included in immigration figures? Immigration is defined as someone or people coming to live permanently in a foreign country. As a member state of the EU how much of a foreign country are we then? If a person or people from an EU member state live in the UK as their host nation, they also have freedom to live back and forth from their own country or another host EU country.
According to Fullfact.org the numbers of EU citizens coming to the UK stood at an estimated 270,000 to March 2016. While 90,000 immigrated abroad this left a net migration of 180,000. Again there is that word ‘immigration’ which I would point out that, EU citizens have the right to freedom of movement and, while we still are a member of the EU, there is the freedom of movement and immigration is the wrong term to use. Indeed migration may also be the wrongly implied term in this context.
What will be interesting, if and when we leave the EU, is the numbers of migrants and immigration. It may be that it will be closer to the tens of thousands purely due to withdrawing from the EU as a member state. This will then be an ‘achievement’ to support the rhetoric of the Conservative Party and an example of how they controlled immigration to take them into an election. I would argue that it will only be a skewing of their figures because EU citizens, of which the UK is a member state, should not include EU figures in immigration but rather accept that, under the terms of Article 3 (2) of the Treaty on the European Union and Directive 2004/38/EC on the rights of citizens to live freely in host EU member countries they are citizens of the wider European Union. Immigration is the incorrect term but, perhaps unfortunately, Amber Rudd and the Home Office would rather leave them as immigration figures because that helps their rhetoric of positioning EU citizens as a risk to national identity, housing and job security. However, this goes further and I will unpick another aspect of the speech which implies we are open only for business for bright workers and students and the context of what is implied in another article.