I’ve spoken a lot recently about illegal immigration. There have been a lot of pieces in the media summarising my views and I’ve posted a lot on my Facebook page that you may have seen. However, in one place I wanted to pull together all of my views so you can fully understand them. I also think it’s fair enough to put the spotlight on my Labour opponent.
With regard to the use of the Novotel by the Home Office to accommodate illegal immigrants I’ve been extremely clear in my views. I’ve done everything within my power to oppose it.
Before it went public I attended a number of meetings with Home Office officials where I was very passionate in opposing it. I also held a special debate (Westminster Hall debate) where I went into detail in front of the Immigration Minister about all the different ways in which this was bad for our Town. Naturally, I was pleased only a few days ago to hear that we may only be weeks away from the Government bringing forward to relocate those in hotels to disused army barracks and even ferries.
Recently there was a protest outside the Novotel opposing its use by the Home Office. I have no idea who was there. I spoke to Suffolk Police before the protest. And I spoke to them after. They informed me the organiser wasn’t connected to the “far right”, and they said after the protest that there was no confirmation the “far right” were present at the protest. Due to other protests around the country that had got out of hand I made sure I was in frequent contact with the Police.
There was a counter protest that took place at the same time. Those who were at this protest have made a number of allegations about the far right being present at the main protest against the use of the Novotel but I’m going off the reports I get from the Police, not them.
I’m not entirely sure what these protestors were looking to achieve or why they were there. I can only assume they were there because they supported the Novotel being used by those who have come here illegally from France (having refused to claim asylum in France and other safe European countries). Accommodated at the hotel at the taxpayer’s expense. There were a number of posters opposing all national borders.
Interestingly a number of Ipswich Labour councillors were present. The Labour MP candidate was also present. I found this interesting bearing in mind that the Labour leader of the Council David Ellesmere had previously opposed the use of the Novotel.
My Labour opponent since he was selected has been virtually silent on the issue of the small boat crossings and the Novotel. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have a past on the matter. Late last year a national newspaper drew attention to a number of visits he had made to the immigration camps in northern France. The places where people head off from to illegally enter the UK. I have no idea why he was there and it was news to me. Some have suggested that he was there actively encouraging the small boat crossings and for people to illegally enter our country. I have no evidence that this was the case.
That was many years ago though in his defence and he’s been silent ever since from what I can see. So I must confess to be pretty shocked that he decided to attend the counter protest. Bearing in mind most peoples views in Ipswich I think it was distinctively unwise. Again, his motives for being there we can’t be certain about. But I can’t blame people when they see him with a megaphone next to people calling for the end of all borders to come to the conclusion that he wants a total free for all when it comes to our borders and asylum system.
Ipswich Labour launched an attack on me for not believing them that the far right played a key role at the anti Novotel protest the other weekend. I again responded that I was simply going off the reports the Police had given me.
For me and thousands of others there is a sneaking suspicion that actually Ipswich Labour and maybe even the Labour MP candidate view anyone who holds the sorts of views I do on illegal migration and the small boats issue as being “far right”. It’s a classic tactic of the left to smear and demonise people who hold my views as being “far right” and “fascist”. They seek to cower us so we’re afraid to speak out. That will never be the case with me. I’ve sought my constituents views extensively on this issue and I’m extremely confident that not all, but the majority agree with my views and strongly oppose the use of the Novotel by those who have illegally entered our country from France.
The values divide between Ipswich Labour and many of their traditional supporters could not be clearer. It feels a bit like Brexit all over again. Let’s not forget my predecessor, Sandy Martin. Despite the fact that Ipswich voted strongly to leave the EU he thought he knew better and did everything within his power to overturn the referendum result. This almost feels like a re-run.
At a national level: Labour have voted against every single measure to tackle illegal immigration and control our borders. They would bring in uncapped “safe and legal routes” and give everyone who arrives here illegally by small boat the green light to stay.
Government’s Illegal Immigration Bill is back in Parliament. The Prime Minister deserves great credit for bringing forward such a bill. He’s right. If you enter our country illegally under no circumstances, should you be able to stay. You should be detained, deported and banned from ever being able to enter our country again. I know this all sounds a bit draconian but what’s the alternative? We need a powerful deterrent.
Otherwise this appalling situation where we have over 40,000 mainly men arriving here illegally every year through unsafe crossings empowering people smugglers will simply get worse and worse. The numbers will continue to escalate and its not an exaggeration to say we’ll be overwhelmed.
We can’t afford any more false dawns. We can’t have landmark Government’s policies such as a Rwanda scheme gummed up in the Courts for months on end. We need delivery. I completely understand why so many of my constituents are so frustrated by this.
There’re a couple of ironies here. Firstly, Labour supporters continuously accuse us Conservatives as being somehow xenophobic. This is despite the fact that the Home Secretary introducing the Illegal Immigration Bill and the Prime Minister both come from immigrant backgrounds. They key thing is, their families came here legally, in the correct way, and they have made positive contributions to our country. They haven’t jumped the queue and sought to break our immigration laws. Like many of those who have came from France have. Let’s not forget, a great many of them come from countries such as Albania that are 100% safe!
The other is the suggestion that I’m “anti-refugee”. This is despite the fact that the weekend my opponent was stood outside the Novotel I was at the world largest refugee camp, the Rohingya refugee camp. This has become one of my key interests. I’ve made three separate visits to the camp since becoming an MP. The majority of these refugees are women and children. They have fled directly from their homeland. For their lives! Many of the women I met have been raped. The majority have lost families and friends to butchery at the hands of their tormentors. When I asked them what their dream is? They say simply they want to return home in safety.
There is a simple reality here. There’re 100’s millions of people across the country who would like to be able to claim asylum in our country and could conceivable secure refugee status. Therefore its vital in my view that we introduce a cap. That cap should be driven by compassion and we must take our fair share but there must be a cap. If we believe there should be a cap then clearly we must talk about how we prioritise. And with that comes to the key point about the Rohingya. For every single man that illegally enters our country from France, often from a safe origin country, that is able to stay here, realistically, it limits our ability to accommodate people such as the Rohingya, who really are in the most desperate circumstances. They don’t have the ability to claim asylum in any safe country, they don’t have the ability to return home.
The truth of the matter is therefore this. I am pro genuine refugees. Very much so. By clamping down in illegal immigration we can finally introduce a compassionate but controlled asylum system. One that truly prioritises the world’s most needy and vulnerable but also one that ensures we don’t get overwhelmed. I’m confident that in time we’ll get that with the Conservative Party. With the Labour Party we’ll get a far worse version of the status quo!