Posted on November 23rd 2017
The hour of reckoning is approaching. And in the words of Bernie Sanders ‘When men and women stand together for justice, we win’.
Until now, the Government has refused to engage in debate about the kind of country they want the UK to be after we leave the EU – and specifically to spell out what all this means for immigration. Ministers – assuming they have any control over the withdrawal process - prefer to set the direction of travel behind closed doors.
Labour, enjoying a sense of momentum in the post-election mayhem, has also been reluctant to lead the debate with a positive, confident approach towards immigration.
So who is going to stick their neck out and push for fair and sensible leadership on immigration over the coming months?
We are now weeks away from the release of a new Immigration Bill – a landmark piece of legislation stripping future EEA nationals of free movement rights – whose effects will be felt for decades to come. Brexit is around the corner and, with negotiations badly stalling, a long, dark shadow is being cast over the detail of future immigration rules. Migrants seem likely to be used as bargaining chips in future trade negotiations, with hostile regulations extended and the lowest-skilled and poorest treated worst of all.
Right now, we risk sleepwalking into a future where the UK’s reputation for being welcoming, fair and tolerant is sacrificed on the altar of Brexit.
To mount a defence against this direction of travel, JCWI, CLASS and Runnymede, brought together leading thinkers from across the left last week, to air and thrash out core principles around identity, belonging and immigration after Brexit. We were joined by Lisa Nandy MP, Tulip Siddiq MP, deputy general secretary of Unite Diana Holland, journalist Ian Dunt, Liberty CEO Martha Spurrier, CLASS CEO Faiza Shaheen and many more for a vital debate.
Across the piece, our speakers and delegates agreed that a progressive vision of immigration after March 2019 is urgently needed. In the battles ahead – and there will be many - we will need to stand together to defend a decent, humane and diverse vision of Britain against the actions of a fragmented, panicky Government.
Who knows what political upsets – and opportunities – the next year will bring. We call on campaigners to be ready with the principles and the arguments, to find new opportunities to reach out to change hearts and minds where needed, and to remain energised by the knowledge that we stand together for a country that remains optimistic, tolerant and open to the world.
Download JCWI’s 5 key calls for change after Brexit pamphlet here.