18 October 2016
There is no disguising it anymore. Britain is turning sharply right.
Led by a Conservative Party that is increasingly beginning to sound like France’s far-right National Front, post- Brexit Britain is attacking foreignness wholesale. Foreign workers are in its sights. So are foreign students.
Hard Brexiteers, many of whom are senior government ministers, appear busily engaged in fumigating the political arena for pesky, liberal ideas such as openness and inclusiveness. They are turning concepts — universal commerce, free markets and transnational human rights — advanced in the late 18th century by Thomas Paine into foreign notions. But Paine, who was born in England, migrated to the British American colonies only in his 40s. In many ways, his ideas grew out of English soil.
This is pest control masquerading as immigration policy. What is so pestilential about the foreigner? British Prime Minister Theresa May warns that foreign doctors are in the country for no more than an “interim period”. Her home secretary, Amber Rudd, suggests two further ways to reduce foreign decontamination: Limit the number of international students at British universities and force companies to reveal how many foreign staff they employ. The outcry over the last step forced a U-turn but the British government’s direction of travel remains clear.