How the government got into a mess over immigration – and what could happen next

Cabinet ministers are at odds over immigration, but don’t expect it to dominate the next election, says Sean O’Grady

Monday 27 November 2023 21:40 GMT
<p>James Cleverly picking his way through the immigration chaos in the Commons  on Monday </p>

James Cleverly picking his way through the immigration chaos in the Commons on Monday

Immigration continues to be a heated topic as Britain heads toward an election. Record numbers of inward migrants have added to existing concerns about “illegal” cases of people crossing the English Channel in small boats to claim asylum – an activity deemed lawful under various international conventions on refugees and human rights, but recently outlawed in domestic legislation. The Rwanda plan remains in a state of suspended animation after the Supreme Court ruled it unlawful. “Emergency” legislation and a new Rwanda treaty have been promised, but timescales are unclear. Immigration as an issue has also become a central theme in the struggle for the leadership and soul of the Tory party.

What is the government’s policy on migration?

This is no flippant query. One frustrated Tory MP asked the immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, that very question at questions in the Commons, and received something of a pro-forma answer.

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