Divisive nationalists: Outcry at Tory cabinet attacks on foreigners in UK


Prime minister and five Tory ministers attack migrants’ rights in 24 hours 

THE TORY GOVERNMENT has lashed out at the millions of people who live and work in the UK from abroad in a flurry of anti-migrant attacks at the Tory conference.

Prime Minister Theresa May and five cabinet colleagues criticised the number of international doctors, workers, and students in the country; with one minister suggesting that those who “consume the wealth of the country” weren’t welcome.

A series of policy suggestions to shut the door on entry to Britain were also proposed – just at a time when violent hate crime against international citizens in the UK have surged to worrying levels. 

Amber Rudd, home secretary

In Rudd’s Tory conference speech she said the government would “not waver” in slashing the number of people who choose to come and live in the UK.

She said visa tests should be tightened so international citizens are “not taking the jobs British people could do”.

She added that the Tories are “examining whether we should tighten the test companies have to take before recruiting from abroad”. This has raised fear of targeting specific businesses and enflaming community tensions. 

Russ also attacked the rights of international students. She said the Tories were “looking at tougher rules for students on lower quality courses”. 

The Tories have cut international student numbers, a move condemned as economic self-sabotage by education experts.

Theresa May, prime minister

May, who administered anti-migrant policies at the home office, raised concerns about the future of international workers in the NHS – who make up a crucial percentage of expert staff.

Refusing to give support to international workers, she said they were welcome “until further numbers [of British staff] are trained”.

The prospect of the NHS setting limits on international employment raises fears of who will be allowed to remain in the UK after Brexit.

The prime minister has refused to grant those living in the UK the right to remain, citing the need to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU. 

Liam Fox, UK trade minister

Fox, on the far right of the party, hit out at migrants to Britain.

“People who come to the country and consume the wealth of the country without ever having created anything are a different kettle of fish,” he said, over who should be allowed to live in the UK.

He described EU citizens in the UK as “one of our main cards” in Brexit talks.

David Davis, brexit minister

Davis added to the anti-migrant fervour by saying companies could be forced to reject people from other countries in favour of people born in the UK.

He told conference: “If they go down a route of having a work permits, for example, typically the way a work permit works in other countries is you’ve got to say ‘have you tried to get a British citizen first?’.

“And if you haven’t, then you have to do that first. So there’ll be tests like that.”

Jeremy Hunt, Health secretary 

Of course migrants don’t just have rights in the UK – millions of UK citizens are spread across the world for travel, work, and to live with their families. But the Tories aren’t keen on supporting their rights either.

Jeremy Hunt said there would be financial penalties for doctors who tried to leave the UK, through forcing them to pay extra for their education costs.

“It’s people who are trained at the taxpayer’s expense and then very quickly move abroad – that’s what we are trying to disincentivise,” he said. The Conservatives trippled tuition fees, which are set to rise further in the next two years.

There was horror among liberals of the anti-migrant politics expressed by the Tories. 

Writer Chris Silver, responding online, said: “I feel like today has robbed me of a sense of Britishness that I never consciously subscribed to, but could still relate to. Not any more. I suppose it was Britishness as a set of loose values: solidarity, moderation, shared culture: all entirely separate from the British state.

“But seeing the Britain that was invoked time and time again today: imperious, deluded, mind numbingly insular, I want no association with it.”

Satirist Simon Blackwell expressed the turn to the far-right in simple terms.

Writer Ian Dunt warned that “Brexit is the engine powering the most reactionary deterioration” of the UK.

“You realise what it must be like for foreign doctors, here for years, having to listen to poisonous filth being said by ministers today,” he added.

Picture courtesy of NCVO London

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