(RT) – Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled new laws to prosecute migrants working illegally in the UK as immigration figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveal that net immigration reached 318,000 in 2014.
The latest figures
represent a catastrophic failure for the previous
Conservative-led coalition, which pledged to have net migration
capped at “tens of thousands.”
Quarterly ONS statistics show that net migration from outside the
European Union is at its highest level since 2011, and is now
rising nearly as fast as migration from within the EU.
The total migration figure of 318,000 is a 20,000 increase on the
previous four-quarterly total of 298,000. This nears the 2005
total of 320,000 recorded at the height of the first post-EU
expansion wave of eastern European migration.
The rise in non-EU immigration will present a further challenge
for Cameron, who has previously laid out plans to tackle
immigration by challenge the EU principle of free movement of
Madeline Sumption from the Migration Observatory at the
University of Oxford said that today’s figures show “how
difficult it would be to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of
“Net migration has risen even despite new restrictions on
family, work and student visas that were introduced during the
last parliament,” she added.
Cameron countered controversy surrounding the latest figures
Thursday by announcing proposals to criminalize illegal work in
Making his first major speech since his reelection, Cameron said
UK authorities would crack down on immigrants who violate the
conditions of their stay in Britain. He said such legal breaches
could see immigrants imprisoned for six months.
A statement from Number 10 said: “The new criminal offence of
illegal working will apply to migrants who have entered the
country illegally and also those who came to the country legally
but are in breach of their conditions or have overstayed.”
“It will deprive illegal migrants of their wages, which will
make it harder for them to stay in the UK,” the statement
“It will also mean that people who are here illegally can’t
benefit from working and police can seize wages as proceeds of
In response to the proposals, Cameron’s former Coalition
partners, the Lib Dems, said the Tories were once more
“pushing the button” of tackling immigration without
considering the consequences.
“The Tories promised to cut net migration to tens of
thousands but failed spectacularly. Instead of admitting their
target was a stupid idea, they have pushed the ‘let’s sound tough
on immigration’ button yet again,” Lib Dem peer Lord Paddick
“Theresa May needs to get it into her head — not all
immigration is bad. If she was serious about cracking down on
illegal immigration she should concentrate on what works and not
tar all immigrants with the same brush.”
Labour MP Yvette Cooper said she thought Cameron was “taking
people for fools.” She said the gap between “rhetoric
and reality, between promise and delivery” was eroding trust
in the newly formed government.
The Green Party also criticized the measures, describing them as
“arbitrary and illogical.”
This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.