Douglas Carswell

02 DEC 2016

Ending free movement is non-negotiable

Immigration from the EU hit record levels this year, according to the latest figures. The majority of the British people made clear in the referendum they want immigration brought under control. Ministers and MPs now need to make that happen.

In June, we voted to take back control. That entails an end to the free movement of people. From now on, our parliament and our government must control our borders. We should be able to decide how many enter and on what grounds – and to modify criteria as circumstances change. Anything else would be a surrender of sovereignty.

Most voters want immigration reduced. David Cameron was elected on the promise to cut it to the tens of thousands. Brexit will allow the government to fulfil that manifesto pledge on EU immigration – though it must also do likewise for non-EU immigration, which it already has the power to control.

But controlled immigration doesn't mean zero immigration. We should attract talented people who add significant value to our economy.

That's not the system we have at the moment. Unskilled immigrants from the EU get priority over skilled immigrants from non-EU countries. People are judged based on nationality, not merit. That's not just bad for Britain. It's patently unfair.

The latest immigration figures should be a wake-up call to the Remain rearguard in Parliament. The issues that motivated people to vote Leave won't just go away. If control over our laws and our borders is not restored, the majority of voters – Lib Dem by-election success notwithstanding – will react accordingly. Remember, seven out of ten Labour constituencies voted Leave.

There is an alternative to obstructionism. Brexit enables us to rethink whole swathes of policy areas – from immigration, to fishing, to energy. We have the opportunity to build a broad, new post-Brexit consensus.

Those Remainers who accept the people's mandate will play a constructive role in shaping Britain's post-Brexit future. Those who reject it will ultimately be ousted by the electorate. Choose wisely.

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