The Tories are trying to push through a new law that could block the majority of European Union (EU) immigration after Brexit.
Formally abolishing free movement is a stepping stone to new rules unveiled in the Tories’ Immigration White Paper last December.
The new regulations will rest on a Tory law from the 1970s that aimed to clamp down on immigration from Britain’s former colonies.
The Immigration Act 1971 gives the home secretary sweeping powers to determine what hoops migrants have to jump through to work and live in Britain.
The changes would be phased in from 2021, when the two-year “Brexit transition period” is scheduled to end.
The White Paper’s proposals are based on a false division between “skilled” and “unskilled” migrants.
EU migrants classed as “skilled”—largely those with a university degree—would have to apply for a five-year work visa.
For migrants classed as “unskilled” the rules would be far harsher. They could only apply for a one-year work visa and would not be able to bring over family members or access public funds.
Labour MP Harriet Harman has led a cross party group of MPs supporting an amendment to the bill that would end indefinite detention for asylum seekers.
Britain is the only EU member state where refugees can be locked up indefinitely without charge.
Scrapping it has been a key demand of asylum seekers, who have frequently staged hunger strikes at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.
Refugees suffer humiliating treatment under Britain’s racist immigration rules.
It emerged last Sunday that the Home Office was using debit card purchases to track asylum seekers’ whereabouts.
If any purchases are made outside of the person’s “authorised city”, the Home Office would use it to claim they didn’t need emergency shelter.
While Harman’s amendment would limit detention to 28 days, a judge could keep extending it for further 28-day periods.
Labour’s approach to immigration doesn’t carry the Tories’ racist rhetoric, but accepts the division between “skilled” and “unskilled”.
Splitting migrants into “skilled” and “unskilled” increases divisions among working class people and makes it harder to fight the Tories.
Labour’s immigration policy shouldn’t be based on what’s best for big business—but what’s best for workers.
Bosses can move vast amounts of money around the world in search of greater profits. Why shouldn’t people have the right to move in search of a better life?
Anti-racists must fight to defend and extend freedom of movement.
Fascists try to have a go
Attempted attacks by the far right have underlined the importance of building a mass movement against fascism.
A group of racists, led by James Goddard—best known for harassing Anna Soubry MP descended on a Manchester Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) stall last Saturday. They kicked over the stall and chanted in support of Nazi Tommy Robinson.
Goddard is jostling for a leading position on the British far right by organising “Yellow Vest” protests. Manchester SUTR has organised a Reclaim the City solidarity event this Saturday. And nationally SUTR has called a counter-mobilisation against a planned “Yellow Vest” rally in central London, on 30 March.
Meanwhile, far right activist Vinnie Sullivan tried to cause trouble at Bookmarks the socialist bookshop in central London.
The events show the importance of building for the SUTR national demonstrations.
Stand Up To Racism Round-up
Around 100 anti-fascists in Oxford protested against French Nazi Marion Marechal-Le Pen on Tuesday of last week.
Marechal-Le Pen, a leading member of the National Rally/Front National, had been invited to speak by the Oxford Union university debating society.
Supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) were among the protesters outside.
Ian McKendrick from the Oxford SUTR group said, “We think it’s wrong for the Oxford Union to give people a platform with fascist views.”
The Oxford SUTR group also organised a week-long Holocaust Memorial exhibition, which saw
90 people come through the door on the first day.
Holocaust Memorial Day
SUTR and Unite Against Fascism have been organising meetings around Holocaust Memorial Day.
Up to 90 people attended a joint meeting organised by the Islington and Hackney SUTR groups in north London last Saturday.
A similar number turned out for the Waltham Forest meeting.
Dozens of people turned out for a Holocaust Memorial Day outdoor event at Newcastle University.
It was organised by the local SUTR North East group.
Meanwhile, anti-racists in the area are also organising solidarity after a Muslim community centre was vandalised with far right graffiti.
The SUTR Scotland conference takes place this Saturday with speakers including Sandra White (SNP), Anas Sarwar (Labour), Khadija Mohammed (STUC) and many others.
Anti-racists ran a tiny handul of far right “Yellow Vest” protesters out of town in Cardiff last Saturday. It followed a similarly successful action in neighbouring Newport last week.
As about a thousand pupils were leaving Central Foundation Girls' School in Tower Hamlets, east London last Friday they were followed and filmed by someone. This person provided a vitriolic commentary full of racist, misogynist and Islamophobic comments—and then posted it on the internet.
A man in his 60s has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.
On Monday staff at the school lined up along the road outside the school in a silent protest with a simple message “our schools are no place for hate” — an important show of unity and solidarity.
More actions are likely to follow to make sure racists get the message that they are outnumbered and not welcome.