Richard North, 02/05/2006  

Illegal immigrants at DoverThe events over the last few days, variously described as the "meltdown" of Blair's NuLab experiment, go to prove yet again that all politics are local. No matter how much the EU tries to get itself noticed, the activities of a sexual predator in the Cabinet or the serial incompetence of a Home Secretary will always seem to take precedence over what the media still insist on calling "foreign news".

It is slightly odd, therefore, that when domestic politics are to the fore – and not even the inventiveness of this Blog can actually make the EU look interesting at the moment – the Telegraph should choose in its main leader to feature immigration demonstration in the USA.

However, the Telegraph turns even this into domestic politics, with the headline, "We can no longer dodge the immigration issue". It starts by noting the contrast between the attitude of immigrants to the United States and France, stating that Hispanic illegals do not swim the Rio Grande or slither under barbed wire simply in search of work, but because, by and large, they wish to become Americans.

By contrast, across the Channel, many of the younger so-called sans papiers actively despise France; some of them have embraced a mixture of criminality and extremist Islam - apparently disparate world views that, as bemused European liberals are discovering, can be slotted together with surprising ease.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister has thus coined the slogan: "Love France or leave it," raising the question as to whether Britain should embrace the same solution.

The answer, suggests the Telegraph is that the Labour government might have left us no choice. During the course of 2004 alone, around one per cent of our existing population took up residence here - and this does not include illegal immigrants. The government, it says, would be incapable of managing immigration even if the European Union allowed it to: it cannot even deport released foreign murderers and rapists.

Thus, domestic politics suddenly become EU politics. What is not generally realised is that, under Article 39 of the consolidated treaty we have no powers to exclude nationals of EU member states from these shores, except "on the grounds of public policy, public security or public health". And, by a succession of EU court of justice rulings, "public security" has been so tightly drawn that such a national criminal has to serve a five year sentence before being considered for deportation – as opposed to one year in the case of those from third countries.

Even then, the exclusion cannot be permanent and we are obliged to permit re-entry after 15 years, or a lesser period if the applicant can prove that their "personal circumstances" have changed.

Thus, although, as the Telegraph reminds us, Britain benefits from a certain influx of legal immigrants, we are also confronting ever larger numbers of immigrants, legal and illegal, who despise everything about this country except its welfare provisions and the criminal opportunities opened up by politically correct policing.

Yet, as long as those immigrants come from or via the EU, there is nothing we can do about them. As a result, says the Telegraph, "Love Britain or leave it" is not a refrain that any serious politician is likely to use in the near future, and we are not recommending that they do. But, it adds, that is what more and more people are thinking.

Strangely, therefore, it is the very issue that politicians of all parties have been so keen to avoid discussing that is eventually going to rise up and bite them where it hurts.


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