Tuesday 25th November
David Cameron is fond of using what someone must have told him are common expressions. He gets it, and there will be no ifs and buts. So he told us about a referendum he promised regarding the signing of the Lisbon Treaty. He had said that he would definitely offer a referendum on that Treaty, which many in his party were arguing had given even more powers to Brussels. Then it turned out that what he meant was that there would be a referendum, unless the treaty was already ratified. So no ifs and buts, is that quite clear. Actually whenever one hears a politician say that their policy is quite clear you can be sure it as murky as hell.
Just before the last election Cameron came out with what he hoped might be an election winner; he promised that net migration would come down to the tens of thousands – no ifs and buts. He has repeated this pledge a few times even though it is patently obvious that he cannot control this at all. Theresa May has semi-officially announced as much this weekend. Net Migration is the difference between the number of people (immigrants) coming to live here and those leaving to live elsewhere (emigrants). This figure has remained stubbornly over two hundred thousand for the last five years and was even higher before that. It is no co-incidence that these numbers actually rise when the economy is improving and fall a bit when it is doing worse.
Two things to say – one, a large part of the number of immigrants are foreign students coming to UK universities. The Universities welcome them as they pay ridiculously high fees. Secondly the influx from Europe is largely beneficial, they are mostly young and do not use the NHS or have children to be educated or retire here. They come here to work and work hard and pay their taxes while very few claim benefits. There may be some evidence of immigrants from Africa or Asia claiming benefits but very few from Europe do. And of course many Brits living in Europe claim benefits too.
So, next time Mr. C. promises something, adding no ifs and buts – you will know exactly what he means.