Boris Johnson has announced a huge rollback of migrants’ rights in a bid to divert blame for the Tory-made crisis in the NHS and public services.
He said migrants will be forced to pay “on day one” to use the NHS, or be denied care.
Migrants from outside the European Union (EU) have been forced to pay a one-off health surcharge on top of their visa fees since 2015. The fee of £400 will increase to £625—and it will extend to all migrants, including those from EU countries.
EU migrants would also have to have to wait five years to access social security.
Health charges have seen some migrants die after they were denied care due to their immigration status.
Johnson’s immigration plans were announced just days after figures showed that patients are faced with the worst waiting times on record.
He wants to stoke the myth that public services are overstretched because of migrants—when a decade of Tory austerity and privatisation is to blame.
The underlying myth that migrants don’t contribute was blown apart by the government’s own report into immigration policy after Brexit.
The Migration Advisory Committee reported that EU migrants “have paid £4.7 billion more in taxes than they received in welfare payments and public services”.
The Tories have said they want to bring down “unskilled immigration” while attracting the “brightest and best”.
Labour has continued to say it would bring in a “skills-based immigration” system. And Jeremy Corbyn only said there would be “a lot of movement” after Brexit—despite the party’s conference calling to extend freedom of movement.
Big business has hit out against Johnson’s plans, saying it needed “all skills levels”.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director of the CBI bosses’ organisation, said, “If you do want to build 200,000 houses a year, you don’t just need the architects and the designers.
“You need the carpenters, you need the electricians.”
But arguments in favour of immigration should not be couched in terms of what’s good for business.
Any form of division—between British-born and migrant workers or “good” and “bad migrants”—is a danger to working class people.
It weakens workers’ ability to fight the Tories’ assault on public services and the bosses who attack their pay and conditions.
On top of pushing racism against migrants, the Tories have continued trying to scapegoat Muslims as an “enemy within”. Home secretary Priti Patel said that Britain would not take in the children of British citizens who allegedly fought for Isis in Syria.
Her Home Office continues to preside over the threat of mass evictions of asylum seekers in Glasgow.
A court ruled last week that subcontractor Mears Housing could evict people without a court order.
The Tories were forced to suspend some of their members last week after evidence emerged of Islamophobic social media posts.
Anti-racists must stand with all migrants—and fight to defend and extend free movement.