The Home Office and Immigration

In the 1980s and 1990s Ministers and officials in the Home Office administered a relatively successful Immigration Policy. It typically ran at 50,000 net migrants joining the UK population each year. It was never above 100,000, and was at 48,000 in 1997 when the Conservatives were replaced by Labour in government. This level enabled us to be generous over refugees, and to meet the business requirements for special skills or seasonal workers.

The new Labour government wanted policy change to boost numbers. The civil service and the EU were very helpful. It soon rose substantially. Between 2004 and 2007 it ran above 250,000 in each of the four years, some five times higher than the previous government’s preferred level.

The newly elected Coalition government in 2010 appointed a Conservative Home Secretary who made clear her wish to bring numbers down from over 250,000 to below 100,000. Home Office officials were asked to work on various ways to help achieve this. After an early fall to 176,000 in 2012 it accelerated away again to well over 250,000 in each of the years 2015 to 2017.

In the 2017 election the former Home Secretary had her chance to review this policy and targets as Prime Minister. She reconfirmed them, stating in  the Manifesto that “our objective  (is) to reduce immigration to sustainable levels, by which we mean annual net migration in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands we have seen over the last two decades”. She also made clear she wished to control EU as well as non EU migration, thus ending freedom  of movement.

We need to ask why was it that the Home Office did not implement policies that met these Manifesto pledges? They had shown how it was possible to run such a policy in the 1980s and 1990s. They could have been in no doubt about the wishes of their Home Secretary, nor of the new Prime Minister in 2017. This failure raises interesting questions about the relative responsibilities of senior officials and elected politicians. Whilst I of course defend the constitutional principle that the Home Secretary has to take the public blame for failing to implement her own policy, we do also need to ask about the wider departmental failure.

Today we read of problems for the current Home Secretary to  get her policies implemented in a timely and helpful way. I would urge officials in the Home Office to see that they had had years to get ready to cut migrant numbers, and soon will have full powers over EU migrants as well as from the rest of the world. Surely they can draw on their experiences in recent years, and on the new powers they can create, to succeed this time round? If not the Prime Minister would be right to allow new senior officials who can.

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  1. Peter Wood
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    You’ve made a couple of posts indicating the need for reform of the civil service; perhaps a post of how to remove and replace a permanent secretary would be helpful? Can this be achieved in a new and better way?

    We read much about the arguments in the EU over their budget for the next 7 years, ex-UK. It is indicative of the institutionalised dishonesty of the EU’s national political members and senior bureaucrats. There is only one reality: without the UK, Germany will, most probably, be responsible for over 50% of the net contributions to the EU budget. It doesn’t matter what treaties, agreements and understandings say, if Germany is the effective paymaster, then Germany rules the EU. All the rest is just hot air and posturing (Mssr. Macron!) Congratulations Germany, third time lucky!

    • Helen Smith
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      We were the second largest net contributor, as you say normally he who pays the piper calls the tune, but not in our case, we had to do what we were told, hand over our fish and our money, is it any wonder we voted Leave.

      • Andy
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        It is no wonder you voted leave. You were fed lies for 40 years by the Tory right, the press barons and – latterly – by friends on Facebook. Frankly if I had not done my research I might have voted leave. Fortunately I knew better.

        • Robert mcdonald
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          Lies, please expand. I did my research, noted the lies from the likes of you, and voted to leave as did 17.4 million others wise enough to see through the establishment smoke screen.

          • margaret howard
            Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink


            17.4m (mostly elderly) people deciding the future of about 70m!

            A system third world dictators like Robert Mugabe would be proud of.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

            Do you understand how a referendum vote works Margaret?
            The one with the most vote wins.
            Glad you accept 70 million live here.
            63 million at the last census.

          • Robert mcdonald
            Posted February 26, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

            Umm, Margaret, so you think that 16.8 million should have more say than 17.4 million, and the c 30 million who didn’t vote, for what ever reason, would all want your wishes fulfilled. Now that is nearer how third world dictators, and eurocrats, operate.

      • margaret howard
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink


        “We were the second largest net contributor”

        In 2018 Germany’s share of total contributions to the budget of the European Union was 20.78 percent, the highest of any EU member state.

        Only three other member states contributed more than ten percent to the EU budget, France (15.58 percent) the United Kingdom (11.88 percent) and Italy (11.74 percent).

        • Edward2
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

          You are mixing up total contributions with net contributions.

        • Peter Wood
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

          Dear lady, do look up the definition of ‘net’. It’s a small word, but an important one.

        • dixie
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

          And yet …

          Search for “Which Countries are EU Contributors and Beneficiaries?” on that same website gives an article by Katharina Buckholz dated Jan 13, 2020 that shows net contributions by country with;

          Germany +17.2b euros
          UK +9.77b euros
          France +7.44b euros

          this data is also sourced from the EU.

      • Ken Moore
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        In fairness, the Conservative government uniquely allow British fish quotas to be sold onto foreign operators when fishing vessels change hands. Much fish landed in British waters are landed by Dutch and Norwegian vessels that have bought our quotas. Nothing to do with the EU. Sometimes the Conservatives obsession with free markets goes too far.

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Trying to run and finance the whole of Europe will reduce Germany to rubble as effectively as the Red Army.Meanwhile an ever-strengthening Russia will be ready to pick up the pieces.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Please explain how, with just ninety or so out of the seven hundred and fifty MEPs, one Commissioner, and one seat on the European Council, Germany “controls” the European Union?

      It is not in a position to withhold its contributions, and gets the maximum twenty-nine population-weighted votes in the Council of Ministers, along with France, Italy, and until recently, the UK.

      • agricola
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        He who pays the piper dear boy. No one goes to Malta in search of an opinion, invariably it is Merkel or Macron.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          Actually, they do go to Malta, in matters where any of the countries would have a veto.

          That happened quite recently over a UK extension, remember?

      • Peter Wood
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        There is a compelling and, fortunately for you, simple answer – consider Mrs Von Leyen’s elevation to Commission President. MEP’s had no choice.
        Contempt for the EU Parliament is clear from the former Commission President, who said of them, ‘you are ridiculous’!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          They could have rejected her, as they rightly did TTIP.

          What ever do you mean?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            I don’t think that anyone anywhere need take lectures from any Tory/Leave voter about “contempt for Parliament”.

            You just don’t perceive irony, do you?

          • Edward2
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            For nearly three years Parliament showed its contempt for the voters by desperate efforts to overthrow the referendum vote.
            But the supremacy of Parliament is a power that resides in the hands of the people.

            Now we have got a government with a huge majority and the remain fans have largely been kicked out we can proceed to being a free independent sovereign nation once again.
            In control of our own laws, money and borders.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        As I understand it the Council proposes legislation and policy and the parliament ratified it.

        Thus legislation and policies are dominated by the one paying the most.

  2. Mark B
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    We need to ask why was it that the Home Office did not implement policies that met these Manifesto pledges?

    Oh that is easy to answer. Because those pledges were never intended to be honoured. You see, what politicians say in an election to get elected is one thing, but what they do once elected is another. This we, once again, are finding out.

    It amazes me that policies that no one voted for (eg plastic bag tax or same sex marriage) can sail their merry way into law, but as soon as you come across something that the people actually want; “Nah ! You can’t have that !” We have been reduced to little more than voting fodder and to give a thin veneer to our so called democracy. This thin veneer is used by our so called betters to preach to others and give them a sense of superiority. That is until, post BREXIT when, as President Putin said after our referendum;

    “We will see how they all put democratic principles into practice.”

    I need not add any more 😉

    • Shirley
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      Well said, Mark. Dishonesty is pervasive in Parliament. Pre-election promises go out the window once elected as the last few years has demonstrated only too well.

      That is why Trump is so popular as he keeps (or tries to keep) his promises to the electorate. Such a pity that all politicians are not so honourable or honest with their voters.

      • Otto
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Dishonesty is just another word for corruption – there’s a lot of it about, here and there…..

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Indeed say one thing do the opposite. Cameron even said he was a “low tax at heart Conservative” and cast iron EUsceptic who would give the public a vote on the Lisbon treaty. He was nothing of the sort and ratted on all of it. He even appointed, tax to death, Osborne to increase taxes (and tax complexity) hugely which was extremely damaging to the economy. Then he said he would stay on after the EU referendum result and issue the section 50 notice the next day.

      If only he had been what he dishonestly claimed he could have been a great PM, he had two open goals against Brown and ED tomb stone Miliband.

      We could hugely improve the economy by making any employer state or private able to fire anyone for any or no reason with a standard pay off. If they are any good they will easily get another job anyway.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Plus employers would be far happier to take people on if they knew they could get rid of them if it did not work out.

    • Nig l
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Every time a politician uses the word democracy, put ‘selective’ before it. The plastic bag tax was nothing more than virtue signalling and has made no difference. It just means I have to buy them to put my rubbish in rather than get them free.

      However re today’s topic, I cannot avoid the belief that they are incompetent or wilfully obstructive, or both and obviously they had a good role model in a previous Home Secretary/PM. Certainly it needs sorting out and the politics do not favour the Civil Service.

      As Nelson said ‘England expects’

    • jerry
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Mark B; “that is easy to answer. Because those pledges were never intended to be honoured.”

      Not quite, they were political pledges that could never be honoured, at least without crashing sections of the economy, increasing still further our trade deficit as buyers source products off shore, those pledges were made on the hoof in response to the equally unthinking but populist policies from UKIP.

      • Stred
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        There is a video of Nigel Farage arguing with a dairy farmer who pays his cowman £36k and cannot find any British staff to replace continental workers if they go home. Farage reckoned he could find some if he offered that rate. When last staying on a dairy farm in Ireland it was interesting to see that the farmer had an automated milking system and the cows were happy to come in to the shed and back onto the machine which had robotic searching and suckers. Perhaps the government could give loans and advice.

        • jerry
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          @Stred; Many UK farms have that sort of milking system, it does NOT do away with a skilled dairy operatives – I wonder how these robots know when a cow is suffering from say Mastitis, or is lame due to an infected hoof?…

        • Fred H
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

          Stred – – That poor farmer has obviously lost the plot. To pay annualised wages of £36k (any other benefits?) is crazy. Where was the farm? Half that wage is probably more like typical. Automation is viable if the farmer has a large milk quota, otherwise totally uneconomic.

    • Peter
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Indeed. HS2 will go ahead to help out the big construction companies and Huawei will go ahead to keep in with the Chinese. Huawei will not even be asked to share the technology or work on it with UK telecommunications companies.

      On immigration, the Conservative Home website already talks about how things are worded to give the government room to manoeuvre. Increasing non EU immigration seems to be the real objective, not limiting overall immigration. Nothing is being done to address illegal immigration either.

      • Ken Moore
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        HS2 is a big pat on the back for rich Conservative donors and associates. Someday this scandal will be exposed but for now the figures are too large for the big brown envelopes stuffed with cash to be noticed

    • Nig l
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Ps i wonder where the democratic legitimacy is for the £100, 000 cost per household cost that is alleged to be required to meet the Governments green promises now admitted to be uncosted.

      Gove was at his condescending and oiliest worst when avoiding a question on this by Julia HB a couple of weeks ago.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Nig 1

        As reported yesterday that is £100,00 per year per family, if it is the same report that has recently been doing the rounds after a freedom of information request.

        Can you even begin to imagine underdeveloped Countries funding that, let alone developed ones !!!!

        Utter madness, and the man made bit not even yet proven !

    • BOF
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Mark B I think you have it in a nutshell.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      I would suggest that a Minister unable to impose the party’s will on a department would be moved on. That we had the longest serving Home Secretary would imply the party’s will was implemented

  3. Ian Wragg
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Following Common Purpose guidelines and UN directives, the Home Office Office doesn’t work for the government of the day.
    These people are enthralled with the EU because it is a self feeding monster.
    Unless there is a complete clearout things will never change.
    I bet at the end of this Parliament immigration will be higher than now.
    We are being purposely displaced.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:48 am | Permalink

      There’s a whole new industry in France enabling illegals to enter Britain with the connivance of the government and its agencies.
      Start returning them to mainland Europe then we will know you’re serious.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        They hide in the cash economy when they get here, Ian. They do not announce themselves to the authorities.

        The UK does not require ID cards like France does.

        They generally go undetected, so how could they be sent anywhere?

        What evidence to you have for your very serious allegations against the French authorities?

        None, as usual, I surmise.

        • gregory martin
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          It is my understanding that detected illegals when detained are not imprisoned pending deportation or asylum but given a free rail warrant and advised to report to Lunar House in Croydon to plead their case. It would be interesting to learn of the percentage who lose their way.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      I suspect you are right. Though I am in favour of sensible levels of high quality, net benefit immigration.

    • jerry
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      @Ian Wragg; If our indigenous birth rate and skills gap doesn’t improve I have no doubt immigration will likely rise, it will have to unless we shrink our economy here at home, perhaps being more like Japan has been, unable to expand at home larger businesses expanded abroad.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink


        FYI I believe that in 2018 28% of births in the UK was to mothers that were not born in the UK.

        • jerry
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          @Know-Dice; I thank you for making my point, considering that the UK still has a very low birth rate, it would be even lower without the immigrants!

          In 2018 the (live0 birth rate was the lowest since records began in 1938.

          • Fred H
            Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

            OFF TOPIC.
            Now that we’ve aired our dislike, or admiration for the Civil Service, could we turn attention on the House of Lords? Currently in excess of 800 members I believe soon to be nearer 830, how many would be appropriate to conduct the business required of them?
            I’ll start by bidding 20, plenty will want 100, generous spirited politicians at least 500, and ex-PMs probably happy to be popular with going towards 1000.

      • Ken Moore
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        So out of date. What we need is a smaller more sustainable population doing better paid more highly skilled jobs. The plan to swell the population to create a sweatshop economy, necessitating building on every available open space is unhinged.

        • jerry
          Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

          @Ken Moore; Yours is a re-warmed idea from the 1980s (plus an added anti-immigrant slant), with a falling indigenous working age population (under the age of 50) who thinks anything but a high skill, well paid, white collar job is below them your idea would be an even worse failure than it was in the 1980s, even more jobs, both high and low skilled, being exported.

          I think you need to study what has been happening in Japan over the last 20-30 years, a high skilled economy that has stagnated, because of a falling indigenous birth rate coupled to very restrictive immigration policies.

    • Wil Pretty
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      The Americans have a phrase for it, drain the Swamp.
      Civil Servants used to see thier role as public service. This has gone. There has been an influx of employees who are political and have thier own agenda. How else to explain how vested interests get the policies they want.

    • Peter
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      A clearout will only happen with brand new political parties.

      Labour was close to being fatally damaged but Conservatives bounced back from Mrs. May’s disaster years. So it will be more of the same. Boris will probably go full Blairite, as Cameron did.

    • Bob
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      “We are being purposely displaced.”

      Hence the trick of mentioning only the net figure to play down the scale of displacement.

      • agricola
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Yes in 2019 612,000 immigrated to the UK and 385,000 emigrated. That 612,000 put a far greater strain on UK infrastructure than the 384,00 before they chose to leave. Why? Because they are less likely to be financially self sufficient and more likely to be young, reproductive and putting a greater demand on health , education, and housing. They are the population of somewhere like Nottingham arriving every year. Past Labour, Coalition, and Conservative governments must have all wanted this or were unable to control the Home Office. I say this because roughly half did not originate from the EU.

        • Ken Moore
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

          They tell us that migrants are net contributors to the economy. But never add on the cost of all the extra hospital beds, Gp’s roads and schools etc. A fraud on the British people.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        And the phrase to the tens of thousands, another deliberately vague deception. Not that they even tried to meet that target.

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Ian Wragg

      Whatever are you going to do when you can’t blame the EU any longer for all of this country’s woes?

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        The whole point of leaving the EU was to make our own politicians form their own policies in accordance with their election manifestos and accountable to their electorate for the successful implementation of same. Now they and the Civil Service won’t be able to hide behind EU regulations brought in by an unelected Commission in Brussels.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          Rubbish. It was about identity for most.

          • Matt
            Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            And just what is wrong with that ?

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Margaret, the EU wanted us to bow and scrape to them while our borders were destroyed and THEY decided who came here to the UK. Would you be happy when 100 million arrived from the 3rd world, all wanting a house, NHS, benefits, schooling, translators etc etc?

        • margaret howard
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink


          “Would you be happy when 100 million arrived from the 3rd world….”

          When is this supposed to have happened or was going to happen?

          As for destroyed borders, we didn’t sign up to Schengen so had complete control over our own borders.

          Phantasy scenarios created by the likes of the DMail etc for the gullible.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

            It is ridiculous to say we had complete control over our borders Margaret.
            Signing Lisbon and Mastricht treaties meant there were open borders and freedom of movement.
            Surely you know this basic fact?

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        We’re going to blame the current UK government and vote to remove them and install a different one, something we could never do with the EU law-makers.

      • Matt
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        The Civil Service played a large part in causing Brexit.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Blame our government for not getting a grip.

    • Fishknife
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Prioritise and follow the money
      There is very little the UK can do to effect Climate Change so allocate our meagre resources to mitigating flooding.
      Be realistic on CO2, electric vehicles in pollution hot spots, London and Birmingham, encourage hybrids for town use, we (the motoring poor, outside major conurbations) will never afford electric cars.
      Charge employers for using imported labour.
      Charge income tax fairly at x/365 ths, so everyone works for the same number of days for the “common good”.
      Replace VAT & Corporation Tax with a local Purchase Tax.

    • DennisA
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Craig Murray says:
      “UK Immigration Service: The system has been privatised and largely decoupled from Embassies, with visa processing handled by private companies in separate buildings. The vast majority of applications are never seen at all by an immigration professional from the Home Office or FCO. They are handled by very poorly paid employees, often locals of the country, completely as a tick box computer exercise.”

    • bill brown
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Ian Wragg

      “Home office enthralled with the EU!

      You will have to come up with a better one, where is the proof

  4. agricola
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    You ask the questions and make points as if you are totally unaware of the answers. We express opinions which at 06.00 are on the money. You are closer than most to what is going on, why don’t you explain what is going on and specifically what you propose to do about it. All you are doing in this piece is allowing people to let off steam only to be ignored tomorrow when another opportunity will arise. There comes a time when politics ceases to be a time for asking incessant questions and becomes a time for advocating taking action. This article is a subtle version of PMQs, to which no answers are given and nothing happens as a result.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Agricola. You are spot on. I often say to my husband I don’t know why we bother to comment on this page because nothing ever changes. Many come up with very good ideas and ways forward and yet we never see them implemented by government. As many of our friends say, “What is the point in getting upset over politics when we can’t really change much?” We vote in a new party but everything stays the same in real terms.

    Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Labour’s client state working well I see. CP has infected many areas of public life. In effect, they are in power even when they’re not in government.

    And then the Tories come trotting along like lambs to the slaughter. The progressive left have neutralised the Tory party and our freedoms in the space of a generation

    Articles like this are meaningless if this government isn’t prepared to impose utterly brutal changes to reverse the damage imposed by that stain of a party and their allies that rose to power in 1997

    If Patel falls, it will reveal something very sinister. That we have a Tory party that has to all intents and purposes fallen to its knees and capitulated to the forces of Labour and the cultural Marxists.

    No more smiles. No more Tory conviviality. No more diplomatic conversations. No more apologies.

    Your party has a mandate from the BRITISH PEOPLE. That’s all they need to smash Labour’s client state that they’ve been constructing and expanding since 1997

    It is my belief that it is easier for the Tories to do as little as possible which may explain why continuity May-Johnson appears so reluctant to impose reform. Thank god Farage didn’t think that when he started on his road to get the UK out of the EU.

    The more you spend on Labour’s unreformed client state the stronger it becomes. By calling for more State spending you have created a rod for your own back and ours

  6. Davek
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Another whinge to try to protect a useless British Home Secretary- if she cannot sack reshuffle or otherwise replace staff who are not performing to government’s wishes then it’s time she had a look at herself. The EU cannot be blamed anymore- so time to bring in the changes that you think are necessary – while the rest of us outsiders are looking on in amazement

  7. margaret
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Freedom of movement should be addressed again in the light of spread of disease.

    • rose
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      It may be addressed unofficially, by individuals and by individual countries. There will be nothing the EU can do about it if everyone acts over its head.

  8. agricola
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Urging officials in the Home Office to mend their ways is totally fruitless. Get rid of them. Change the locks on their office doors, revoke their security passes or just publicly sack them. Wave a bit of Urquart stick about. Those in the Foreign Office and Treasury of similar obstructive inclination will soon get the message.

    You are sitting there as part of an 80 majority. You have no chance of ministerial advancement, at this late stage it is not going to happen so you have the freedom to express yourself. MPs can say what they like in the HoC so please do so. If you fail to do so this government will lose its impetus and fail like all previous ones. Being in office for five years is not success. You will confirm that the reason for dismal political performance over the last 75 years is inadequate to useless management. You may not like the harshness of what I say, but it has truth about it.

    • agricola
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      It is now patently obvious to me that your mediation does not work to your published rules. If you do not like the answers you get you pretend you never got them by failure to mediate them. The satisfaction to the writer is that you at least know what we really think even when you block sharing it. You only mediate idiot submissions to give credence to your ficticious impartiality. Noone expects you to be anything but politically partial but comment blindness is plain silly. Argue to the contrary if you feel strongly about a particular point.

  9. Sharon Jagger
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    “This failure raises interesting questions about the relative responsibilities of senior officials and elected politicians.”


    This raises questions as to how much the failure of reducing numbers was down to civil servants still persuing the ‘one nation’ style EU idea? Also, we know that the Hime Secretary to whom you refer, very much believes in the idea of one global nation and freedom of movement within the EU.

    Hopefully, that can now change, but sadly, the damage is done – our population is enormous.

  10. steadyeddie
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    When a policy is successful, it is the government of the day which claims responsibility, when there is a policy failure, it is the Civil Service to blame. We are in a new era of mass travel and open information that differs from the 50’s and the government needs to respond accordingly.

  11. Dave Andrews
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    We have two possibilities then for the current immigration rate.
    1) Rank disobedience of the civil service to government policy.
    2) Government saying one thing but doing another because they want to swell the GDP figures to massage the borrowing figures.

    I know which explanation I believe.

  12. jerry
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “This level enabled us to be generous over refugees”

    Now that does surprise me, that accepted refugee levels were governed by how many other migrants had already been allowed into the country!

    “We need to ask why was it that the Home Office [from 2017] did not implement policies that met these Manifesto pledges? They had shown how it was possible to run such a policy in the 1980s and 1990s.”

    Perhaps it was because, in conversation with civil service officials from other departments, such as Industry and Agriculture, these HO officials understood the impact such a policy would have. The employment landscape had changed considerably (and not for the best, the Iraq war besides, perhaps Blair’s biggest failing) since the mid 1990s, it was already getting difficult to retain British nationals in some types of employment even then, by 2010 employers had the double whammy of an unwilling mature (post 25 yo) indigenous workforce and very few unskilled youth prepared to try and make a career out of such work, some of which is actually highly skilled even if the hours are long and unsociable simply because they had been ‘promised’ a degree, a white collar job and a well paid salary.

    Immigration policy is not sat in a vacuum, this is not just a Home office problem, the blame does not lie with the Home Secretary, it lies with the entire Cabinet. Why is the DfE still promoting the crazy idea that at least 50% of school levers will go to university, why hasn’t it changed the curriculum to rebalance it away from being weighted towards academia, why hasn’t BEIS set about improving/renewing our FE College based trade schools (or is that another failing of DfE)?…

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Excellent piece by Charles Moore today:- Why take a tenant if you cannot evict them? Also on the BBC licence tax, a huge cost of the idiotic zero net Carbon by X agenda and other topics.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      C Moore does very well indeed, despite not being a scientist and even believing in a religion.

  14. Alan Jutson
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    It is very simple, the Government is in charge, because they have been elected by the voters, if government employees will not do what they are told to do, then they should be sacked, just like any other employee in any other business.

    If the people do not like what the Government do, then they effectively get sacked at the next general election.

    The only real problem is when a Government promises the voters one thing to get elected, and then does the opposite, but again the voters can turf them out at the next general election.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Not if the alternative is even worse 😉

  15. Cheshire Girl
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    The reason why the Government of the day didn’t implement their promises, is, that they were more worried about being called ‘racist’ than listening to the perfectly legitimate worries of the British people.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the present plans are watered down. It seems, as soon as the Government gets some outcry from the ‘usual suspects’ , their backbone crumbles, and they change policy.

    They should stand firm, and think of the interests of those who elected them, and not the special interest groups who shout everyone else down. It seems as if nothing is ever going to change.

    Is it any wonder that we don’t have enough housing – as per the report yesterday!

  16. Old Albion
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Reducing immigration could be speeded up if we stopped ferrying illegals in and sent them back to the EU.

  17. Mick
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Labour accuses Priti Patel of ‘dog whistle politics’ on immigration and Starmer would fetch back Eu freedom of movement if he was in charge , don’t these muppets learn anything, keep up the good work labour muppets you are making yourselves unelectable for a generation hopefully ,

    • Fred H
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Mick – – but ask yourself ‘do you really want an unelectable opposition, given the course the last three PMs have taken?’
      Carte blanche for Conservatives?

  18. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    It’s curious, isn’t it, how all of these people, who allegedly do not work and who live on benefits are supposed to have taken all the jobs, don’t you think?

    And who can afford to buy the houses, and to clog up the roads with their cars?

    This government has a problem.

    They whipped up this misinformed emotion to get elected, and now hope that people can be distracted enough not to notice when economic considerations mean that they won’t get what these voters want.

    They will not be distracted on this matter. Their prejudice runs too deep.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Easy to play the race card Martin.
      We voted to take back control of our laws our money and our borders.
      and to become a sovereign independent country once again.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        So many of you claim.

        Personally, I don’t think that all that many Leave voters are any more truthful that the campaigners were.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

          Still playing your race card.

          • hefner
            Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

            Edward2, Sorry but what are you talking about? What is about race in MiC’s comment?

          • Edward2
            Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

            Read his first comment Hefner.
            Talking of “whipping up misformed information” and “their prejudices run deep”
            Martin has repeatedly claimed anyone who voted to leave the EU did so because they dont like foreigners.
            Despite my rebuttal he just came back in his second post to say he believed all leave voters were being “untruthful”
            His post was just a continuation of that dull incorrect clichéd theme.
            I’m surprised you being so intelligent that you didn’t work it out for yourself.

          • hefner
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

            Sorry, I still do not get it, there is no connection whatsoever with race in MiC’s comment. But I’ll let you take a rest now.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            Well if you dont get it after that explanation I think it you who needs a long rest.

          • hefner
            Posted February 29, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

            “That explanation”? “Cliched theme”? What a laugh. You just let your preconceptions show up with nearly all your “rebuttals”, that’s all.

      • bill brown
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 3:30 am | Permalink

        Edward 2

        Sovereign independent country does not really exist anymore in our interdependent world, this is all history.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

          Tell Australia or USA or Iceland that and see what they say.
          No one makes their laws for them.

          Free nations may wish to enter into mutually beneficial arrangements with one another but that is totally different to being a subsidiary area in the centrally controlled United States of Europe.

          • bill brown
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 2:21 am | Permalink


            You have not answered the question and in Iceland they know they are not sovereign, as they are part of the European Economic Area and still owe their Nordic cousins from when we bailed them out last time.
            Tee United States of Europe would require much more than we have today including fiscal and same tax system which we do not have and are not likely to get that either.
            If, you looked at the collaboration between the Nordic countries you would know that they implement certain laws together, through the Nordic Council.
            So, IN the case of Iceland your argument does not stack up again.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            Who makes their laws bill?
            What Iceland and USA decide to do is their decision freely made by their government which is voted in by their electors.
            Collaboration is fine.
            Joining a trading group for mutual benefit is fine.
            The fact Iceland owes some money doesn’t alter the fact they are an independent sovereign nation.
            Your argument fails.

  19. Everhopeful
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t really matter who decided to flout the rules and the stated objectives. The buck for destroying our nation state stops very firmly with those who were and are in charge.
    No doubt the hope is that when those who actually care about the future die, those remaining will not know any better.
    They will just accept the crime ridden, chaotic, overcrowded abyss to which we are all being herded.
    ( And BTW when the Left insists that London was always a magnet for migrants and that we were always so TOLERANT they make a fundamental error. In earlier times those referred to as “migrants” in papers/reports etc merely came from other parts of the country. Their accents and customs were very different. True diversity!)

  20. BOF
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    What I read into your diary today is that, to a large extent, Ministers are in post in name only with the real power held by Common Purpose trained civil servants. Appalling.

  21. Bryan Harris
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Time the swamp was drained

  22. Everhopeful
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    The Tories have overseen and encouraged the obliteration of right wing politics. They have terrified people at the mention of them even!
    The Left is emboldened beyond measure and the establishment colludes with them in a disgustingly dangerous and craven way.
    No wonder it is proving difficult for a new PM to assert authority!
    If only he could manage it.
    He needs to understand that “sticks and stones” WILL NOT “ break his bones” and that he is perfectly capable of censoring left wing “hate speech”. There has never been a problem with silencing those on the “slight right” has there?

  23. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I’d say it’s pretty clear that Patel’s problems are another May legacy. Anything that woman touched was made worse by her involvement with it. Quite why the Tory party made her PM and then why it took the Tory party so long to move her on is still unfathomable to me.

    If anyone wants to call me out on this, name ONE THING she got right.

  24. Snowjoke
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    David Laws book is revealing.
    In 2013 ‘I naively said to one of the top civil servants [in the Home Office] “Surely entry and exit checks must be a top priority?”
    “Priority, Minister?” was the surprised reply “Immigration has never really been a priority for the Home Office. It has always been, well, a secondary concern. It is not where reputations are made and not where the high-flyers go…Immigration has always been the poor relation. Most of the top HO civil servants don’t regard border control as a top priority at all” etc
    On p351 of Coalition: the inside story.

  25. Ian @Barkham
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    It is the Socialist ambitions of the Labour/Dems that have it in their minds that immigrants will always vote for handouts – therefore them. So more incomers make for more supporters, even those that are here by illegal means.

    No one mentions the trap we fell into with our Caribbean friends, so many finished up as illegals because the Labour administration destroyed all their records therefore their legitimacy. As always the left are hypocrites.

  26. acorn
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    What you really want to do to our two centuries out of date sclerotic democracy is politicise the Civil Service. The obvious model for that would be the US Civil Service. There are three types of US federal civil servants, the competitive service, the excepted service, and the Senior Executive Service. (See

    A new President’s’ administration requires employees (unelected individuals) to fill roughly 4,000 politically appointed positions, including more than 1,000 jobs requiring US Senate confirmation. Including members of the Cabinet; White House staff and top policy and management positions at each federal agency; all unelected employees.

    There is a Presidential Transition Partnership that serves as nonpartisan source of information and resources to help presidential candidates and their teams lay the groundwork for a new administration or for a president’s second term. It starts work about seven months before the November Presidential Election, with the candidates personal transition team.

    • acorn
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      The UK system of a political party, taking some muppet off the street; pinning a party rosette on he/she/it; getting the rest of the muppetry to elect that rosette to parliament; leaves the country with a legislature that would struggle to get jobs stacking shelves at Tesco.

      The UK system then compounds that mess by promoting said elected muppets to be CEOs of major government departments. Fortunately, we have a Civil Service that protects our nation from the antics of randomly elected, clueless, muppet ministers.

      What sort of government administration system has ten ministers for housing in ten years; five justice ministers in five years; seven farming ministers in ten years?

  27. BJC
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    It’s incredibly easy for those at management level in the CS to delay and obsfucate, because they know with an absolute certainty that they will outlast any Minister tasked with overseeing their department. If they’re moved out of harm’s way it’s probably only a temporary blip as the department can be returned to “normal” once the Minister has gone.

    The CS would benefit greatly from a performance related pay structure, i.e. based on outcomes. The role of manager then becomes that of enabler, responsible for providing the right environment for their teams to achieve their objectives and performing to agreed standards. Team members receive the pay rises they deserve (not demand) and management delivers the overall objective. Using yesterday’s news as an example, would staff have been happy to work on an alternative project if it was guaranteed they’d sacrifice their own pay rises, because it could never meet the government’s stated objective? Wouldn’t the manager’s obligation have been to his staff and acted to restrain his obvious enthusiasm?

    The unions won’t like it of course (good luck!) because it shines a light on poor performance, although it offers the opportunity for higher rewards for excellence, which has to be the ultimate aim.

  28. Javelin
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The problem with senior civil servants opaquely not implementing or resisting Government policy starts with the viability of the election manifesto. For democracy to work the civil service need to publicly advise politicians on the viability of their manifesto before the election. The treasury already validate the cost but the implementing department also needs to publicly validate it.

    Treat manifesto promises like a contract between the public and the civil service.

    When that manifesto is implemented any further advice, costs, plans and progress needs to be public too. Senior civil servants can’t then hide behind protocol. If senior civil servants fail to implement the manifesto they said was OK then they need to be reviewed and if necessary sacked.

    The relationship between the voters, politicans and civil service needs to be more transparent for manifesto promises. Politicans and the civil service need to put more work into costing and planning before the election and more work into publicising progress after the election.

  29. Glen Spokes
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Gardening leave, and no “K”, and Fixed Budget fot 10 years should bring Civil Service numbers down. ( Now ar 4.5 million +or- ) It would be interesting to see how the cash became distributed.

  30. glen cullen
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Sir John I fully agree with your sentiment and approach to this subject

    However there is one simple reason why net immigration hasn’t fallen….civil servants and government didn’t really wont it to happen.

    Even with an 80-seat majority and a points system to be implemented in 18 months, the government still lacks the backbone to tackle the immigration issue at a tactical & strategic level

    • Robert McDonald
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      At least they are making a start, even with the mountain of the civil self service as a major obstacle.

    • James1
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      We need higher productivity. The public sector should be radically downsized. Probably to the tune of making every second or third person redundant and free to do something useful in the private sector instead of interfering with and disrupting production.

    • Matt
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      You can tell a serious immigration system when you see it – Australia, Canada…

      Last night on TV a trafficker banged up for only 4 (in reality 2) years. He’s still on a good hourly rate !

      The people who pay the traffickers are regarded by the state as ‘victims’.

      A charade is played out between our government, the traffickers and the ‘victims’ whereby they are ‘rescued’ half way (in their desperate escape from France.)

      We’ll soon know if the Boris government are going to continue with this.

      No-one is fooled – unless they want to be.

      • glen cullen
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Foreign tourist with wrong visa/ travel documents
        UK Border Control – Do you wish to claim asylum, are you under 18yrs, have been trafficked ?
        Australian Border Control – You’re on the next available flight back ?

        • Matt
          Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          Everyone’s watching what Boris does next.

          He’ll probably pick an unnecessary national fight with the railway unions to deflect attention and make himself look Tory-hard.

  31. Richard1
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Priti Patel must stand her ground and we must support her in the face of the liberal-left smear campaign against her.

    The next battle is crime where many police forces have given up, it seems, pursuing real crimes that people care about. In Cambridge the other day a gang of yobs in the name of a climate protest vandalised a famous garden and brought the city to a standstill. The police not only did nothing they facilitated it! A local poll showed 94% thought the police should have upheld the rights of people and property against the yobs.

    The public are right behind the instincts and policies of Mrs Patel, but the shrill voices of woke leftism which dominate the airwaves are viscerally opposes to her. She needs to win.

  32. formula57
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    “If not the Prime Minister would be right to allow new senior officials who can” – surely by now “if not” can be assumed. Why waste time?

  33. Kendall Massey
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I believe, along with much of the rest of the civil service, the BBC, many councils, educational establishments, Scotland Yard etc etc, many in the Home Office were radicalised by nutters, well oiled by taxpayer money.

    Drain the swamp.

  34. Richard1
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    On the subject of useless functionaries there was an absurd interview with a knight high in the Environment Agency on the Today programme this am. He declared that communities are threatened by the “huge” (I think that was the word) rise in sea levels. Sea level rise is variously estimated at 2-3 mm pa. Thats 20-30cm per century, about the same as its been since the end of the last ice age.

    He then went on to say that the “climate emergency” (where does this ridiculous contemporary expression come from?) was leading to unprecedented storms. the data suggest otherwise, there is nothing particularly unusual either about global extreme weather events nor even about the rain we’ve just had in the UK.

    Part of this presumably is to deflect justifiable criticism of the environment agency’s incompetent record onto acts of God (or more like acts of Man – or perhaps capitalism). We need to be better served than this. sounds like another candidate for the ‘_hit list’.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      It really winds me up hearing people claiming something ‘because of our climate emergency’ as the Environment Agency chap did this morning. Something we have our idiots in Parliament to thank as they voted for it.

  35. Bob
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Today the BBC were pushing the idea that Tory austerity has led to lower life expectancy in deprived areas of the UK. expertly exposed their story as a complete sham perpetrated by far left activist Michael Marmot who they introduced as someone commissioned by the coalition govt, when the reality was he was working for Gordon Brown’s govt.

    The whole piece proposed that it was a new trend and made no mention of similar patterns in other European countries or the effect of large scale immigration from the 3rd world over recent decades. This kind of fake news has become standard fayre for BBC listeners, the same approach is applied to their “climate emergency” stories which go constantly unchallenged due to their no-platforming policy toward “climate deniers”.

    It really is time to call time on the BBC poll tax.

    • Bob
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink
    • Matt
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      I eat healthily and cheaply on food bought in Lidls, taken home to make meals from scratch. I see people making the wrong choices each time I shop there – pies, crisps, cake, biscuits, sugary pop. Smoking seems to be more a working class habit too.

      It is not about austerity. It is about poor choices.

      • margaret
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 3:36 am | Permalink

        Agree Matt .You see many blinkered comments on this site about many things and it isn’t class related ; it is pure unreasonable people with low IQ’s, even from those claiming to be intelligent!

        I am just wondering how all those flooded out with businesses and houses ruined due to climate change don’t consider their predicament important and alarming.
        I shop at a variety of places , poor carbohydrates, trans fats , high sugar products are addictive ( some would argue what addiction actually is) and quickly relieve the body’s request for renewed energy , but have lasting residual affects on the gut, pancreas and vascular systems with visceral adipose accumulation .It is difficult not to break the addiction.

        • Matt
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

          Ready made and convenient (lazy) more like.

          ‘Addictive’ means victim of capitalism right ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 4:29 am | Permalink

      Which is the more likely cause and effect? A. People in poor health, or alcoholic, or disabled, or with mental health issues or drug addicts tend to earn less due to their health problems restricting their work options or B. People in low earning jobs rapidly develop poor health through some other interesting mechanism?

      For the left of course it is B. if you doubled these people’s benefits or earnings they would all magically get far healthier, smoke and drink rather less, any pre existing health problems would all magically fall away, they would exercise rather more and eat far more sensibly!

      The left are, as usual, totally deluded.

  36. Stred
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Mrs May signed the UN Migration Pact without anyone in parliament or the broadcast media saying anything to the contrary. This requires that we assist migration and accept economic migrants as refugees. The civil service and ministers have to do what the UN requires. Why else would politicians have signed it. No wonder civil servants get cross with ministers who don’t want to do as they are told and send people home instead of to a hotel with living expenses.

  37. Nig l
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Great article in Unherd saying basically the Home Office has never been fit for purpose and has viciously briefed against any Home Secretary that tried to change/get things done since time immemorial.

    When will somebody finally clear out this festering problem.

  38. DavidJ
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Those staff who have clearly obstructed government policy need to be rooted out and sacked without compensation. If only we had robust law returned then maybe they could be prosecuted for sedition.

  39. John Probert
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    The previous Prime Minister TM was unable to provide strong leadership
    I think she spent about a decade in the Home Office achieving not very much

    Time for a very Ruthless change which I hope PP will provide

  40. Andy
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    As expected most of your contributors appear to think immigration is a bad thing.

    On the contrary – immigration has improved our country, our continent and our planet beyond recognition.

    We are healthier, wealthier, better educated than we were in the 80s. Our environment is better, as is our food. It is win, win, win.

    This irrational fear of foreigners and all things foreign is genuinely baffling.

    Oh ‘but it’s about numbers’ some will claim. Nonsense.

    Some 14% of the population is currently foreign born. Most of them from outside the EU.

    In an average crowd of 100 people about 6 of them are from the EU. 6. A negligible number.

    Meanwhile migration has also benefited huge numbers of Britons who have chosen not just to go to the English speaking world but now in significant numbers to places like Spain, France and Italy.

    Of course that migration of most Britons to the EU all but ends now thanks to the war the Tory pensioners have waged on the young. Their right to free movement stolen by a bunch of backward looking people who can’t get over the fact that it is no longer 1950.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Do you have any top limit to the number you want to come each year?
      Is it a few hundred thousand or a few million?
      According to you, to get richer all we need to do is carry on with the policy since 1997 of encouraging immigration.
      Odd the GDP per head figures do not bear out your claims.

      • bill brown
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Edward 2

        Wake up they are independent but not sovereign it is staring you in the eyes and you have not got a clue about what is going on with the Nordics

        • Edward2
          Posted February 27, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          Youu have a bit of an obsession bill.
          Get a ruling from the UK’s supreme court.
          The European Court of justice.
          See what they say.

    • Fred H
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      ‘We are healthier, wealthier, better educated than we were in the 80s. Our environment is better, as is our food. It is win, win, win.’

      all down to the EU ……WONDERFUL.

      • glen cullen
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        ….and we are more politically savvy

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink


      I grew up in the 1950s, and I do remember, that I didn’t have to go about my business, worrying about being blown up by ‘suicide bombers’.

      That hadn’t become one of the ‘improvements’ you are so keen to mention.

      The trouble with you is, you only ever see one side. Some of the elderly remember a time when it was far safer to travel anywhere, than it is today.

  41. North Easter
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Lets hope the North East gets back its fishing fleets in these EU negotiations. Little has been said.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      That’s because our fishing rights are the price to pay for a EU deal…..mark my words, some civil servants have already planned for this and they’ll tell us it’s the only option at the 11th hour. But don’t worry our fishing waters are in our full control we just wish to franchise them to the EU for 10 years !!!

      • Iain Moore
        Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        It would be shameful if they did, and something the British establishment would never recover from, having sold out our fishing communities to join the EU, then sod them out a again to leave the EU.

    • Earlybird
      Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Nothing will change about fishing- for a start we still require access to the EU markets to sell most of our fish caught. Secondly fish value to the UK economy amounts to some 800million pounds annually whereas access to the EU for London financials insurance and banking sector amounts to countless billions- in fact hundreds of billions- so all of this means that there will have to be regulation- ie. EU regulation. So nothing much will change in the end except a few cosmetics for face saving purposes- unfortunately we are in their orbit and thaf’s the truth unless we want to become like WTO rules or nearer to Albania style in the 1970′?

  42. North Easter
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The much unknown facts outside fishing regions of the UK is that when trawlers went to sea they had a cabin boys who were not boys but usually young men, ones just starting their careers. Getting used to being at sea was enough in first training. He was the cook. After two or three days onward to the fishing grounds, normal food would run out and after that “every meal was fish, boiled fish, grilled fish , fried fish, poached fish, FISH ” for ages. They ate alot of fish. Of course with all industries, its parts for this and that ‘walked’ in a manner of speaking, so fish was high on the diet in communities who never went to sea, quite apart from that bought in fish n chip shops, everywhere.

  43. BillM
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    SJ. You are talking to Civil ‘Servants’, who are but ………………., for they are deaf to any orders or suggestions that run counter to their arrogant person plans and blatantly refuse to see the change upon this country, brought about by our leaving the EU and the huge win for leavers at the December General Election.
    Priti Patel is a breath of fresh air in the deluded Home Office and I trust she will follow through on her mandate and save us from all further democratic abuse by those unelected and egotistical establishment self-servers within the circles of Whitehall. They have had it their way for far too long. Much to the detriment of the British people and our democracy.

  44. Roger Phillips
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Sir John
    On a different subject it is quite shocking reading the media reports on the “Demands” the EU are making of us, mainly regarding our fishing grounds at present but no doubt there will be further demands as talks progress, surely a better negotiating position for us would be to walk away on WTO terms until the EU offer us a fair and free trading arrangement and perhaps change the attitude a little at the same time.

  45. kzb
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    According to all the expert economic analysis, immigration makes us richer as a country.
    We are also told it does not depress wages and in fact the average person is better off because of high immigration. Going by this logic, the more the merrier, 300,000 good so 600,000 must be even better !

  46. John Hatfield
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    ” I would urge officials in the Home Office to see that they had had years to get ready to cut migrant numbers, and soon will have full powers over EU migrants as well as from the rest of the world.”
    It begs the question, who does the Home Office work for, the government or the big-business “Establishment”.

  47. mancunius
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    JR is right to ask – by implication – why departmental heads have become so autonomous and icily unresponsive to government policy since the 1980s and 1990s.
    I think the answer is that they were largely recruited from 1970s/80s Oxbridge and the other endemically bien-pensant universities, like their immediate predecessors who have retired within the past decade they were secret Labour/LibDem supporters – often party members – and never cut the umbilical cord with academia, or the self-esteem of the hubris-inducing double-first. The lure of the College Mastership/Presidency has kept them nervously docile to the prevailing leftwing ethos of their ex-tutors.
    A more flippant but symbolic answer may be that they see ‘Yes Minister’ as a reliably scripted training video.

  48. Iain Gill
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I know a fair amount about this stuff, but sadly its unlikely you will allow through moderation what I want to say.

    Who is conning who?

    The new policies and their implementation are just as bad as the old ones, but for slightly different reasons. They are not going to deliver the headlines promised to the voters, or what the voters actually want.

    If politicians are not prepared to listen to people like me the tensions with the ordinary people will only get bigger.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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