Researcher Janine Ewen says Nigel Farage wrongly claimed that the door is wide open in the EU for people to enter into the UK
IN a now post-European Union referendum landscape, politicians and allies of the Vote Leave camp have successfully won their vision to have the United Kingdom cut ties with the EU, with exception to Scotland, but they have also achieved a strategic distraction by shadowing a culture of blame onto migrants for existing austerity challenges in the UK.
It is both impossible and irrational to see how migrants caused the financial crisis of 2008-09, a time when 'Austerity Britain' increased the struggle for family households to make ends meet from public service cuts, while bailing out the bankers who continued to be awarded huge payment bonuses.
Migrants were also not the driving factor in the UK’s establishment of 250,000 foodbanks across the nation, so the unemployed and employed could collect food parcels, or feel the need to steal from supermarkets out of shame.
'Austerity Britain' increased the struggle for family households to make ends meet from public service cuts, while bailing out the bankers who continued to be awarded huge payment bonuses.
Migrants did not persuade some of our elected Members of Parliament to claim parliamentary expenses on wining and dining, selfish luxuries. As far as most of the UK’s population were aware, the Conservative-led coalition was responsible for the most drastic budget cuts in living memory, which still affect the UK today.
Politician and businessman Nigel Farage made it his business to make immigration the defining issue in his campaign trail in what was an obvious attempt to categorise groups into a native versus foreign divide. The ease to prey on structural inequalities such as race, class and immigration status, was a political tactic that Farage knew he could distastefully enact having mastered this stance through his Ukip leadership.
The privileged elite that run the UK in the Leave EU cohort wanted people to have an exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion of worry about Great Britain being "flooded", and that vivid image of the "stealing foreigner", taking their jobs and apparently getting special treatment from the government, because that’s the societal insecurity as a result of the hard-hitting austerity, which prevents us all from seeing the real truth; that it is actually not the foreigner who is responsible for making our lives more difficult.
But who would not despise the thought of this happening? People on the Leave side allowed themselves to fall easily into a game of blame-it-on-immigration. It doesn’t make way for a sense of unity against the rich individual who is not paying enough taxes on astronomical earnings, taxes which could be allocated to reduce housing waiting lists. Surely this should be the focus?
It doesn’t make way for a sense of unity against the rich individual who is not paying enough taxes on astronomical earnings, taxes which could be allocated to reduce housing waiting lists.
This is also true on the subject of the open borders that we supposedly have in the UK and in the EU, another insinuation and bizarre claim made by Farage. Firstly, let’s not be silly. Free movement in Europe does not mean there are no borders, as it has been perceived.
It would be a real surprise if people had never seen a border police officer, or had missed details of the Home Office Border Force which carries out immigration and customs controls on people and goods entering the UK.
Britain’s borders are policed and controlled by the British Government. That is a fact. It is also true that the UK Government has made previous submissions to the European Commission, along with other member states, to spend International Development Aid funds to reduce people’s illegal migration to enter EU territory, thus maximising collaborative efforts towards transnational control and restriction.
It is nothing near the wide open door that Farage implied during the referendum campaign. Free movement was for those who are very fortunate to have a range of attractive options of living, visiting and working in our 27 EU countries, while others could do the same on UK soil. Non-EU citizens don't have that right. It isn’t a 'free for all'.
Nigel Farage, who has also publicly commented on the genuine status of refugees coming into Europe last year, has no background in legal training or presented any qualification on the knowledge of international refugee law in order to see which people should come under the protection of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Britain’s borders are policed and controlled by the British Government. That is a fact
He has never assisted people through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) processes or worked to appeal cases and re-open closed files for refugee status determination. He has also made the mistake of branding the UK’s exit out of the EU a deterrent for migrants because they will know our borders are shut and that they will stop trying to get through the border. However, migrants who want to claim asylum in the UK have this right under the 1951 refugee convention, not the EU.
There is a lot of careless communication on the status of people and processes, but perhaps this was more purposeful than Farage having a lack of knowledge; perhaps it was designed to suppress a human rights and social justice approach to those in need, whether they are a migrant or refugee.
Much effort and energy is needed in the UK for the foreseeable future to de-tangle the mess and find solutions amid many unanswered questions. It is a time to seriously reflect on those who have privileges and those who do not, but migrants are not the enemy.
Picture courtesy of Gage Skidmore
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