In recent times Britain, like many countries in Europe, has received a great number of immigrants. This has created many strains in society and was one of the main reasons for Brexit.
In that sense it was a disaster as Brexit is a disaster.
Immigration appears to be made up of two main groups:
a. We have refugees fleeing wars and extreme poverty in the Middle East and Africa
b. The economic migrants from Eastern Europe who were moving from the poorer Eastern European countries and Middle Eastern countries to work in the more prosperous West.
We have had a long proud history of providing refuge for refugees from religious persecution, political persecution or war.
The problem is that repeated wars in the Middle East and Africa have resulted in hundreds of millions of people in desperate need. They have looked to the security of Europe to provide sanctuary.
On top of that we have economic migrants from these regions. A high birth rate coupled with a poor economy has produced a situation where there is not enough work for young people. Families look to move to the prosperous West.
The result of this was that the population of the UK, standing at 59 Million in 2007, has added an extra six million to stand at 65 Million.
This has presented Britain with a number of benefits and problems:
a. It is good for the economy
b. We have brought in cheap labour to do the work that the British do not want to do (agriculture, hotels, restaurants)
c. The immigrants have filled the shortages that we have had in the NHS (surgeons, doctors and nurses), care homes, construction)
d. It has brought in cultural diversity and dynamism
a. The sudden increase in numbers has put pressure on our infrastructure – health, schools, housing, roads
b. There has been an increase in religions foreign to this country – mainly Islam
c. There has been a ghettoization – instead on integrating we find communities gathering into areas
d. There is concern about terrorism
e. Traditionally immigrants have higher fertility rates and we are already overpopulated
The right-wing populist press has done its best to demonise these immigrants for political purposes. They have exaggerated the problems and played down the benefits.
In the past we have taken in large numbers of people – The Huguenots, Jews, Jamaicans, Pakistanis, Sikhs, Cypriots, Indians and many others – and been all the better for it. These people have integrated into our society and contributed greatly. They have enriched our culture. I think the new immigrants, given time, will do the same.
Presently I believe we have had too many too quickly. We need to:
a. Integrate these people so that they acquire the ethos of our country quickly
b. Take steps to do away with religious schools and institutions that separate communities
c. Educate immigrant communities to speak English and adopt our culture (while respecting their own)
d. Eradicate fundamentalism
e. Make immigrants feel welcome and valued