Friday, December 23, 2016
Germany's dangerous open borders
When the British Prime Minister appeared before MPs, there was something unedifying about Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, pressing Theresa May to put a number on European migration after Brexit. It is Mrs Cooper’s job to probe these issues, but it would have been gracious of her to admit that the very reason for discussing European migration was that the Labour government she served opened Britain’s borders to unlimited numbers of people from eastern EU states.
In reply, Mrs May largely maintained her habit of giving few details about her plans, but she did make an important statement of principle: there will be no numerical target for European migration after Brexit. This was derided by Remain-minded MPs who still fail to understand why Britain voted to leave the EU.
Brexit is not about cutting immigration or making foreigners unwelcome. It is about making sure that the rules governing their entry are made by politicians directly answerable to the British people. “When people voted they wanted us to be able to take control of our laws,” Mrs May said, demonstrating that however vague she sometimes appears on the details of Brexit, she has a very precise understanding of its purpose.
She is right to eschew targets, as her experience with the misjudged promise to reduce overall net immigration to “tens of thousands” shows. Much as the regrettable attempt to fix aid spending has warped Whitehall and fuelled public anger, the “tens of thousands” target, missed by wide margins, has skewed entry rules and left voters cynical. Better to decide what skills the economy needs, then admit them under a regime made and explained by ministers – and properly fund the public services affected by the new arrivals.
It will take time for the post-EU immigration regime to take shape, but Mrs May has set the right direction. If any reminder was needed about why Britain was correct to regain control of its borders, look to German. Whether this week's horror inBerlin is caused by someone admitted under Angela Merkel's open-door policy, Germany has already suffered fatal terrorism facilitated by the EU’s failure to control its borders, external and internal.