James Kirkup in The Times today tries to argue that Priti Patel is “winnng the argument on immigration”. Well maybe she is but any argument this most illiberal of Home Secretaries wins is a cause for concern.
The most squeamish Brexiteers (there are a few) like to claim that the “Leave” vote was primarily about “Sovereignty”. They do this, of course, because it absolves them from telling a truth they find uncomfortable. The truth is that Brexit has happened because the forces of intolerance, nationalism and xenophobia outvoted the forces of economic logic, internationalism and openness. Little England triumphed.
Freedom of Movement in Europe is so beneficial that even as distinctly an individualistic nation as Switzerland has embraced it although it is not even an EU member.
Many of us had long since thought ourselves European, were proud that we were European citizens and took advantage of the status. And we welcomed the thousands of citizens from other European countries who came to live and work amongst us. Some were immigrants, some guest workers. All from the Polish plumber to the Italian anaesthetist, the Slovakian waitress to the Dutch geologist enriched our lives.
An important point missed here, and comprehensively missed by the fatuous “points based” system being introduced, is that freedom of movement is about so much more than just the “qualifications” of the potential immigrant or guest worker. It’s about cultural sharing and learning. The narrower and more inward looking we are the less effective in all aspects of our lives we become. That’s one of the reasons we like to travel – or it is for those of us who see travel as being about more than lying on a sun lounger.