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Tony Blair threw open doors to mass migration

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

Labour threw open the doors to mass migration in a deliberate policy to change the social make-up of the UK, secret papers suggest.

A draft report from the Cabinet Office shows that ministers wanted to ‘maximize the contribution’ of migrants to their ‘social objectives’.

The number of foreigners allowed in the UK increased by as much as 50 per cent in the wake of the report, written in 2000.

Labour has always justified immigration on economic grounds and denied it was using it to foster multiculturalism.

But suspicions of a secret agenda rose when Andrew Neather, a former government adviser and speech writer for Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett, said the aim of Labour’s immigration strategy was to ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.

Mr Neather said he helped to write the 2000 report which outlined a strategy to ‘open up the UK to mass migration’. The document was not published in its original format over fears of an adverse public reaction. Instead it was released a year later as a research document on the economic benefits of migration.

Mr Neather’s claims in October 2009 were denied by ministers, including Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who said they were nonsense. A draft of the original Cabinet Office report has now been published following a freedom of information request by Migrationwatch. It contains six references to social policy, all of which were removed from the later, published version.

The Unedited Document:

The highlighted text below was contained in the original draft of the document drawn up in 2000 for a discussion on immigration policy - but deleted from the version published in 2001.

1. The emerging consensus, in both the UK and the rest of the EU, is that we need a new analytical framework for thinking about migration policy if we are to maximize the contribution of migration to the Government's economic and social objectives. 2. Indeed, over the medium to longer term, migration pressures will intensify in Europe as a result of demographic changes. But this should not be viewed as a negative - to the extent that migration is driven by market forces, it is likely to be economically beneficial. On the other hand, trying to halt of reverse market-driven migration will be very difficult (perhaps impossible) and economically damaging. 3. Chapter 4, focusing on the Government's aim to regulate migration to the UK in the interests of social stability and economic growth, argues that it is clearly correct that the Government has both economic and social objectives for migration policy. 4. The more general social impact of migration is very difficult to assess. Benefits include a widening of consumer choice and significant cultural contributions. These in turn feed into wider economic benefits. 5. In practice, entry controls can contribute to social exclusion, and there are a number of areas where policy could further enhance migrants' economic and social contribution in line with the Government's overall objectives. 6. It is clear that migration policy has both social and economic impacts and should be designed to contribute to the government's overall objectives on both counts. The current position is a considerable advance on the previously existing situation, when the aim of immigration policy was, or appeared to be, to reduce primary immigration to the 'irreducible minimum' - an objective with no economic or social justification.

One deleted paragraph said a framework was needed to ‘maximize the contribution of migration to the Government’s social and economic objectives’.

Another says that migration pressures will intensify because of demographic changes across Europe but that this ‘should not be viewed as a negative’.

It states: ‘The entry control system is not closely related to the stated policy objectives.

'This is particularly true in the social area, where in the past the implicit assumption has largely been that keeping people out promotes stability.’

Also cut out was a statement that ‘in practice, entry controls can contribute to social exclusion’.

Damian Green, Tory immigration spokesman, said: ‘This is a very significant finding because it would mean that Labour’s biggest long term effect on British society was based on a completely secret policy.

‘This shows Labour’s open-door immigration policy was deliberate and ministers should apologize.’

Mr Neather’s claims were made in a column for the London Evening Standard. He said Labour’s relaxation of immigration controls was a deliberate attempt to engineer a ‘truly multicultural’ country and plug gaps in the jobs market.

He remembered ‘coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity’.

Whitehall research shows that the number of foreigners arriving in the UK rose from 370,000 in 2001 to 510,000 in 2006. The figures for net foreign immigration – the number of non-British citizens arriving, less the number leaving – are even more dramatic.

In 2001, this figure stood at 221,000 but by 2007 it had risen as high as 333,000 – up 50 per cent. The number fell to 250,000 in 2008 mainly because of a decline in arrivals from Eastern Europe.

It had already emerged that the Cabinet Office report was censored to remove details of possible links between immigration and organized crime, street fights and begging.

One of the sections missing from the final report said: ‘There is emerging evidence that the circumstances in which asylum seekers are living is leading to criminal offences, including fights and begging.’

A second section warned: ‘Migration has opened up new opportunities for organized crime.’

On February 9, 2010 immigration minister Phil Woolas said there was ‘no open door policy on migration’. He said the draft report made clear that migration was ‘not a substitute for Government policies on skills, education and training of British citizens – which the Government has invested in over the past decade’.

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