UK’s goodwill towards migrants ‘not a bottomless font’ – Cleverly says

UK’s goodwill towards migrants ‘not a bottomless font’
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James Cleverly, who argues that affluent countries should assist developing ones in preventing the “haemorrhaging” of people, stated that the UK’s generosity towards migrants “is not a bottomless font.”

The Home Secretary stated that in order to stop the global migration issue, Western nations must assist potential migrants in their efforts to “stay and thrive at home” in a significant address delivered in New York on Tuesday.

In response to queries later, he stated that as Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia grow wealthier and individuals who were previously too impoverished to think of moving do so now have the means to do so, there may be “large-scale” migration to Europe from these regions.

“As these parts of the world become wealthier, there may be an initial but potentially temporary pressure for large-scale human movement to the high-GDP-per-capita countries,” the Cabinet minister said.

He argued that Western powers should support those countries in ensuring they are “safe and prosperous” to prevent an outflow of people and a “devastating” talent drain.

“If you’re a country with great aspiration for your future, but what you’re synonymous for is just people haemorrhaging from your country, that contradicts your message,” he said.

Mr Cleverly also said “I don’t think we can make the same kind of offer” to the poor and dispossessed of the world as when “people coming to the US … would come one steamboat at a time”.

When the numbers are “relatively modest, there is really good public buy-in” to welcoming migrants, he said.

“But get it wrong, you lose that goodwill. You can burn through that goodwill.

“We all have it. But it is not a bottomless font and we need to be realistic about that.”
He said the “modern evolution of our generous humane offer” to the world’s dispossessed “is to help their countries be more stable and less poor”.

The Home Secretary noted that while the UK has traditionally been “very good” at integrating new arrivals, “that’s under real pressure at the moment”.

“It’s proving harder than it has been in the past,” he said.

In his speech at the Carnegie Council for Ethics on International Affairs, Mr Cleverly warned that far-right parties get elected when mainstream politicians “hide from” problems associated with immigration.

As some in the Conservative Party feel threatened from the right by Reform UK ahead of a general election, the Braintree MP spoke of meeting someone representing “a neo-fascist political party” when he worked on the London Assembly.

“He was elected in large part because immigration in East London in particular had been badly mishandled and mainstream politicians had largely ducked the issues about the community tension that immigration had caused.

“That’s what happens, that’s the potential risk if we get this issue wrong.”

He told his international audience that the UK’s Rwanda policy, which will see migrants arriving in Britain after crossing the Channel in small boats deported to the east African country, was an “innovative way of dealing with illegal migration”.

Speaking to the PA news agency afterwards, Mr Cleverly said the scheme “remains a really important part of what has always been a multi-strand approach to immigration”.

While admitting the plan was not “easy” and “hasn’t been quick”, he insisted the Government was still “committed” to seeing it implemented.

Mr Cleverly said in his address that receiving countries should not always rely on immigration to plug gaps in their labour markets and that “there is something rather distasteful, perhaps grubby even, about a country concluding that there are certain jobs are beneath its own citizens and should be left exclusively to be done by immigrants”.

But, he said, “in a very polarised debate, it is important that we leave space for nuance, because of course some countries urgently need an injection of labour and skills”.

It was Mr Cleverly’s first major speech setting out his own views on immigration since he replaced Suella Braverman as Home Secretary in November.

His words marked a shift in tone since Mrs Braverman, a standard bearer of the Tory right, warned the UK was facing a “hurricane” of mass migration.

The Home Secretary’s comments came as a debate rages in the Conservative Party about the best way of tackling both legal net migration, which saw a record high of 745,000 incomers in 2022 on the Tories’ watch — and authorised migration.

The Prime Minister has made stopping the boats one of his top priorities ahead of an election expected later this year.

Helen Dempster, policy fellow at the Centre for Global Development, said: “I wholeheartedly agree with minister Cleverly that the UK should increase their aid to reduce the drivers of irregular migration —but over the last four years, he and his colleagues have consistently done the opposite, with successive rounds of hasty cuts which have undermined progress and made the UK a laughing stock on the world stage.”


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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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