The UK government’s Rwanda policy has been met with widespread criticism. The process of deporting migrants from the UK to Rwanda was challenged by human-rights lawyers and organisations as a continuation of the ‘hostile environment’ policy, and a dangerous display of Home Office racism. Even moderate critics complained about the government using avoidance tactics, by effectively shipping its immigration problems overseas.

But while some bemoaned the Rwanda policy as either unsustainable or immoral, there are many in the UK who support the idea of a government taking action in regards to its borders. Concerns about people traffickers are shared by those with both liberal and conservative views on immigration, and many still believe in the Brexit promise that a sovereign nation should be able to control its own borders. It doesn’t help that discussions about levels of immigration are often reduced to caricatures of luvvie liberals and little Englanders, with more nuanced concerns about resources or solutions pushed to the wayside.

Different ideas about how to tackle illegal immigration have been tested – from wave machines to tense negotiations with France. But are such short-term measures missing a broader problem with immigration policy in the UK? While the government was quick to open its arms to Ukrainian refugees, the process of accepting thousands of people soon ground to a halt under creaking British bureaucracy. And with shortages of labour post-pandemic, some have argued that much of the problem of illegal migration could be solved by taking a fresh look at the Home Office’s stringent points-based system.

Is it time we had an honest discussion about immigration? Is it fair that immigrants often get used to explain a lack of resources in education, housing or GP appointments? Should government be tougher on illegal immigration? And how can we tell the national mood when it comes to immigration policy, when so much of the debate ends in finger pointing?



Professor Patrick Vernon OBE

Independent non-executive director, Birmingham and Solihull ICS; social commentator; co-author, 100 Great Black Britons; creator, Every Generation Game: Windrush Edition; fellow, Clore and Winston Churchill

Peymana Assad

Obama Leader of Europe; councillor, London Borough of Harrow; first person of Afghan origin elected to UK public office; founder, Labour Foreign Policy Group

Dr Jim Butcher

lecturer; researcher; co-author, Volunteer Tourism: the lifestyle politics of international development

William Clouston

party leader, Social Democratic Party

Event Details:

Date: SATURDAY 15 OCTOBER, 10:1511:45

Location: CONVOCATION HALL, Church house, Westminster, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3AZ

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