Immigration to take centre stage at next UK election

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps made a speech on 31st July 2013 which signals that the Conservatives intend to fight the next election as a party that is tough on immigration.

The UK now has fixed term parliaments and so the parties know that the next election will be held in June 2015. While this is still nearly two years away, commentators say that Mr Shapps's speech can be seen as 'a drawing of battle lines for the election.

Speaking in London, Mr Shapps said "In opposition, Labour opposed all the [Coalition's] changes to tighten border controls. They've even proposed going further - planning a higher target for immigration. So back in government, immigration goes up, bringing new pressure to our public services and fresh strains on health, housing and education."

Disaster would follow Labour election victory

Mr Shapps also made other predictions of the chaos and disaster that would ensue in the event of a Labour victory. He said that the government's finances would be thrown into turmoil, public services would descend into chaos and the unions would grow more powerful.

He accused the Labour Party of 'talking down Britain' and of being 'on the wrong side of every argument'. He said that the Labour Party had made similar predictions of disaster and financial collapse in 2010 when the Coalition government took power from the Labour Party at the last general election but had been proved wrong.

The Coalition was formed by the Conservative Party and the smaller Liberal Democrat Party in 2010 because no single party won an overall majority. The Coalition has been working to reduce net inward immigration into the UK aiming to reach a net immigration figure below 100,000 by 2015.

Before the 2010 election, the leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron, now Prime Minister, accused the Labour Party of having lost control of immigration to the UK. In 2010, the population of the UK rose by about 260,000 due to immigration each year in the years up to 2010.

Coalition immigration policies

Since 2010, the Coalition has
  • ;Abolished the Tier 1 (General)visa for foreign graduates
  • Abolished the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa which allowed international graduates of UK universities to work in the UK for two years after graduation
  • Introduced a cap of 20,700 on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas for skilled workers that can be issued each year. This cap has never been reached.
  • Removed the sponsorship licences from 0ver 500 further education colleges which prevents them from sponsoring international students for Tier 4 student visas.
Nonetheless, the Conservative Party has been losing votes to the anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP). Many commentators believe that the Conservatives' anti-immigration stance has as much to do with winning back support from UKIP as with defeating the Labour Party.

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