The vote for the racist Immigration Bill underlines the need for a movement that defends all migrants. MPs supported the Tories’ proposed legislation by 351 to 252 votes on Monday night. If it’s passed after further debates in the Lords, migrants will face a supercharged “hostile environment”.
It will dump free movement and lays the basis for a new “points‑based immigration system”. Home secretary Priti Patel has the power to create new rules afterwards. These will come into force after Britain fully leaves the European Union in January 2021.
Tory plans would make it harder for migrants to come to Britain. Those deemed “skilled” would need a job offer, to meet a salary threshold of £26,500 a year and already have good English language skills.
Those deemed “low skilled” will not have any route to make a life in Britain.
Only some, such as fruit pickers, would be allowed in on short-term visas to work in industries that rely on migrant labour.
The Labour Party’s leadership and the big majority of its MPs voted against the Bill. But in the face of this racist assault, the Labour leadership’s opposition was couched in terms of what’s good and bad for big business.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called out the Tory hypocrisy over clapping for health and care workers then blocking them from coming here.
The Immigration Bill would deny many, particularly care workers, the right to enter Britain.
It is important to say migrants have made our NHS to counter racist myths of migrants stealing jobs or grabbing benefits.
But it’s not enough to just say some sectors of the economy need migrant labour. This leaves the door open to attacks on migrants’ rights.
Thomas-Symonds called for an “immigration system that is fair and in the national interest”.
“The government talk of a points-based system,” he said. “What they actually propose is an income-based system.
“Salary is not a proxy for the level of skill and a salary‑based system will not work for incentivising high-skilled migration.”
This still accepts a false division between “unskilled” and “skilled” and plays on the dangerous idea of “good” and “bad migrants”.
Migrants are not the problem. The problem is the rich and their capitalist system.
The Sunday Times Rich List reminded us that the top 1,000 people in Britain have grabbed £743 billion that should be used for the services we need.
Any division in the working class makes it harder for us to fight back against the Tories and bosses.
Anti-racists have to campaign against any “points-based system” and to defend free movement—and extend it beyond Europe’s borders.