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Conservative Revolution

Britain and the world’s oldest conservative think tank

Conservative Revolution

Britain and the world’s oldest conservative think tank

The Conservative Government is planning the largest immigration amnesty in history

Feb 11, 2019 | Archive, Policies

“Using the distraction of Brexit the UK Government is in the process of sneaking through the largest immigration amnesty in history”
Cllr Benjamin Harris-Quinney, Chairman, The Bow Group 

Key Points:

  • On Monday 28th January 2019 Home Secretary Sajid Javid stated to Parliament that he was abandoning the Conservative Party’s longstanding manifesto commitment to cut levels of migration to the UK to the “tens of thousands”.
  • Both a Bow Group study in 2016 & a Migration Watch study in 2018 found that over 80% of newly created British citizens were either foreign born or born to a foreign parent. Immigration will therefore be the most significant aspect of population growth in the UK over the coming decades. 
  • For the past 15 years immigration has consistently ranked as one of the top 3 concerns for the electorate, with 40% of the public considering the issue to be the most important.
  • Gross migraton figures into the UK have consistently exceeded 500,000 over the past 10 years, equivalent to the addition of a city the size of Manchester each year. 
  • In the run up to the 2010 general election the Conservative Party committed to “cutting immigration figures down to the tens of thousands”, this has featured in the Party’s manifesto for the last 3 general elections, in all of which they have been elected to government.
  • Despite the commitment, and the Conservative Party’s longstanding official opposition to mass migration, former Chancellor George Osborne said upon leaving office that Cabinet Ministers in Government since 2010 had never taken the pledge seriously.
  • The Governmnet has created a situation with its instructions to civil servants, proposed Brexit Withdrawal Bill, & Immigration White Paper, that would grant a migration amnesty to up to 500,000 EU students & their families.

Additional information:

  • Since Article 50 was declared there continues to be high numbers of EU nationals studying in the UK (an estimated 140,000, with 78,000 entering each year.)  By law the EU & the UK do not consider EU students to meet the criteria for settled status residency under Article 7 of Directive 2004/38/EC unless they buy (CSI(C) Comprehensive Sickness Insurance Cover, but the vast majority do not, believing the NHS is free and therefore CSIC isn’t needed.
  • In 2018 a freedom of information request revealed that the Government’s position & instruction to civil servants is that “confirmation whether EU students who at some time during their residence in the UK didn’t have CSI will be excused from the CSI requirement, or will having had CSI now still be required, but no longer subject to proof requirements at the time of application.” In summary this means that the Government hasn’t changed the law, but has advised civil servants to not ask for any proof of holding CSIC, potentially in contravention of Article 7 of Directive 2004/38/EC, the Government’s own stated policy, & UK law.
  • After Brexit the Government proposes to give right to remain and apply settled status to those EU citizens that have lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (‘continuous residence’)
  • In holding settled status a person is able to:
  1. Stay in the UK as long as they like.
  2. Apply for British citizenship
  3. Work in the UK
  4. Use the NHS
  5. Enrol in education or continue studying
  6. Access public funds such as benefits and pensions
  7. Travel in and out of the UK
  8. Bring close family members to the UK after 31 December 2020
  • This would allow EU students to count their period of study, and any period of non-working residence after that, towards their 5 year requirement for settled status. 
  • Between the declaration of Article 50(2) (of TFEU) and the end of 2022-3 (the proposed end of the Brexit Transition Period) an estimated 500,000 EU students could therefore acquire the right to UK settled status and citizenship under the Government’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
  • Their families would also be eligible to gain the same status, widening the amnesty to in excess of 1 million eligible EU citizens. 
  • This would represent the single largest migration amnesty in British history over such a short period, without the public having a chance to vote on a concurrent manifesto supporting the proposal.
  • It is likely to be accompanied by the amnesty for the entirety of the non-student EU migrant population also, which is estimated to number between 3 and 4 million, leaving the total potential amnesty & granting of citizenship rights at 4-5 million people.
  • Whilst the Bow Group supports the right of EU citizens that entered the UK under the Schengen+ rule with settled status to remain in the UK, we strongly oppose the removal of the migration cap target and the potential amnesty for settlement to half a million EU students & their families.
  • In the event of a “No Deal Brexit” there is no requirement to grant settled status or the right to remain in the UK to any EU citizen resident here, however we would again encourage the Government to grant that right to those EU citizens that have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years, but similarly not to grant the same amnesty to EU students & their families who entered the UK to study for a limited period of time and not to live and work indefinitely.
  • If the Government fails to do this, they have no chance of fulfilling their pledge to reduce migration, and certainly not to below 100,000 PA.  
  • We call on the Government to:
  1. Maintain the pledge to cap migration at a maximum of 99,000, with a view to reducing numbers gradually to 30,000 over a 10 year period.
  2. Use gross rather than net figures when tracking migration, to ensure the British public are aware of the number of people entering the country to live and work.
  3. Clarify that they will not be granting the largest migration amnesty in British history to EU students & their families.


“For the past decade the level of immigration to the UK has ranked among the top 3 concerns of the electorate. Election after election they have been given false targets by a Conservative Party and Government that had no intention of meeting them. It is the great lie that produced the Brexit vote & in spite of that, using the distraction of Brexit, the Government is in the process of sneaking through the largest immigration amnesty in history. 

What we see from the Government is not only an abandonment of the manifesto pledge it was elected on, but also the intention to dramatically increase the level of migration from the approximately 5-700,000 people we already see come into the country each year. This will not escape the attention of the British public.

No conservative should consider supporting any Brexit deal that does not come alongside a migration bill that takes the widespread concerns of the public seriously. For conservative politicians, they must be aware that trust in politics is at an all time low, and a dereliction of an election pledge on this historic scale would undoubtedly have a volcanic effect at the ballot box.”
Cllr Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman, The Bow Group

“As a qualified doctor and British subject it is essential to me that everyone before the law is treated fairly and that no burden should be added to the NHS or other public services without compensation.

It is an act of willful blindness to instruct officers not to demand proof of CSIC as required by UK & EU law. This is especially so given the significant implications this has for migration figures & that, when Home Secretary, Theresa May took a Pakistani spouse of a Danish citizen to the Court of Appeal to force clarity that residency required CSIC irrespective of the NHS being free at point of use.

The Home Office has eased the path to residency and citizenship by applying a don’t ask don’t tell policy to EU students post Brexit. Waiving checks for compulsory insurance means lifetime access to benefits, social housing, NHS and the voting rights of citizenship. This could distort outcomes in future elections and referendums, and arguably the most important point is that the British public are not aware of what the Government is doing, nor did they vote for it”
Dr Jon Stanley, Senior Research Fellow, The Bow Group