In 2022, the UK saw its second highest number of immigrants crossing the Channel from France to the UK in small boats. These boats contain both economic immigrants and asylum seekers fleeing dictatorships and war-torn countries, or simply seeking a better life for themselves and their families. The number of individuals arriving on boats has increased from 30,000 in 2021 to 45,000 in 2022. Upon arrival, or while at sea, they are collected by the Border Force and hosted in one of seven detention centres (or ‘Immigration Removal Centres’). But, with arrivals increasing, the centres have become full and the Home Office has resorted to renting out entire hotels and buying former student accommodation buildings to host these refugees while their asylum applications are processed.
With the rise in asylum seekers, the country has seen a rise in protests in towns that are currently hosting them, or due to host them. Most recently, protests against hotels currently hosting immigrants have occurred in Skegness, Newquay, Rotherham, Knowsley, and Kingston upon Hull. Furthermore, the government announced last week that three disused military bases, in Lincoln, Braintree (Essex), and Bexhill (East Sussex), will now be turned into centres to hold asylum seekers. Many of these towns are described by GB News as being “impoverished, working class areas”, which is largely accurate, but few people are questioning why these areas have been specifically selected by the Home Office. The map below, from the Daily Mail, displays the locations of many of the hotels that are currently being used to host immigrants and refugees across the country. When compared with the second map, showing the location of Remain and Leave voters during the EU Referendum, it becomes clear as to why these towns were chosen. They all voted Leave in the referendum, with some having significant majorities. At 74.9%, Skegness had the largest Leave vote in the country, with Rotherham and Kingston upon Hull also having over 60% Leave majorities.
The classic mathematical adage that “correlation does not imply causation” may be true, and the apparent correlation may simply be a coincidence, but, as Sherlock Holmes would say, “the universe is rarely so lazy”. As has been well documented since, the EU Referendum was largely fought over the issue of immigration and the amount of control we have over our immigration policies. The Leave campaign focused almost solely on this issue and exaggerated it to great effect. Indeed, the now infamous slogan used by the Leave campaign to ‘Take Back Control’ was often followed by “…of our borders”. Consequently, immigration remained high on the news agenda in the lead up to the vote, distracting from the effect that leaving the EU would have on our economy (the effects of which we are now suffering).
As demonstrated, there is a clear correlation between areas that voted Leave and areas that are now hosting immigrants. Assuming that the primary driver of these voters was to limit the numbers of immigrants entering the country, surely it would be unwise to place immigrants in those exact areas where they are unwanted and tensions would inevitably be high? The government will have been aware of this potential clash and proceeded with the policy nevertheless, paying no regard for the mental or physical health of the immigrants spending months, if not years, in an increasingly hostile environment. Therefore, it is rational to conclude that these placements were a deliberate move by the government to stoke tensions by playing on the assumed xenophobia of the constituents and consequently garner more headlines. Immigrants have long been used by the government, especially under Tory rule, as a scapegoat and a distraction from the country’s financial and political troubles, and it is only getting worse with Suella Braverman as Home Secretary. The residents of these areas are being manipulated by the government and their protests will go unheard while they respond in the way that the government predicted, playing straight into the Tories’ hands.
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