The topic of UK immigration has never been far from the top of the news agenda since 2016’s EU Referendum result.
Whether it’s the City becoming spooked about what future limitations on the free movement of EU professionals might mean, or the topic being repeatedly used to stoke ill-informed and damaging debate, immigration has long been a sure-fire way of lighting the touch paper ahead of an explosive argument.
However, as we thunder through the penultimate month of 2017, the topic of immigration now threatens stability at the very heart of government.
The Sun newspaper carried a report on November 8th that Theresa May faces a humiliating Commons defeat unless she removes students from the immigration cap.
This is where she wants to cap the net migration level to the “tens of thousands”.
The newspaper quoted sources who said Home Secretary Amber Rudd is warning Mrs May that MPs will block the Government’s upcoming Immigration Bill unless she gives in.
Rather than risk further confusion because of government in-fighting, we urge the government to set out its position clearly now.
Theresa May has been a lone voice in the Cabinet demanding students continue to be counted in the 100,000 a year net migration target. Ms Rudd’s view is thought to be shared by Chancellor Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson and the Business Secretary, Greg Clark.
With the Sun using terminology such as “Tory rebels” when it comes to those who disagree with Mrs May, we need to work hard to ensure the topic of immigration does not become even more sensational and misunderstood than it already is.
This is especially important given that the Government is due to publish a post-Brexit immigration report in the Commons early in the New Year.
One thing the issue does highlight is the ongoing need for UK educational establishments and those students planning to move to the UK from overseas to ensure they seek up-to-date legal advice and assistance on immigration issues.
The UK Government quite rightly operates a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to breaches of its tough immigration law.
For this zero-tolerance policy to have the desired effect, every single detail - including who can enter the UK, how many can come and exactly how long they can stay – needs to be made crystal clear.
There is no room for ambiguity and no room for confusion or Government in-fighting.
For the immigration system to work like a well-oiled machine, the Government has a duty to ensure all the components are properly lubricated and efficient for overseas students, workers and visitors alike.
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