Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 18 September 2014


Recent scenes of would-be immigrants at Calais trying to crash their way into Britain has stirred up many different emotions. Some of you have contacted me to say how sorry you feel for these desperate people and why don't we take them in – others have raged at the very prospect of accepting them. Most of these plucky migrants are from African countries like Sudan and Somalia where life is cheap and living standards are wretched.

The EU rules are very clear that people seeking asylum, which is presumably what these refugees from misery are seeking must apply within the borders of the first EU country in which they land. In this case that is probably France, although some of them will have made their way up through Italy. The British government is pressurising the French government to do more to process their applications in France, as happens with the vast majority.

Some of the migrants appear insistent that they wish to come to the UK, probably because of language similarities or because they have relatives already here. The tabloids will tell us that they want to come to Britain because our benefits are better and we are a soft touch. That is simply not true – the way that the major European nations processes asylum seekers and illegal immigrants is broadly similar.

Some think that immigration is only a problem for Britain. This also is nonsense. In 2010 France had 11% of its population who were born abroad (including plenty of Brits) the vast majority from outside the EU. At our last census (2011) our percentage of non-white British was 13%, but this included many people who were born here (second and third generation) (like Leona Lewis and Theo Walcott) but whose ancestors were from overseas.

Germany is the second largest immigration capital of the world (after the USA) with 19% of their population of non-German origin.

I put myself in the shoes of a person living in (say) Somalia. Somebody offers, for a payment, to get me into a wealthy European country so that I can find work and send money home to keep my kids alive. What would I do?

We are a small island. I believe we have taken too many immigrants in recent years and I support reducing the numbers. But let us never forget that we are talking about fellow human beings and do all we can to encourage improvements in their own countries.

posted by Gary @ 10:41