Comment: Only the rich can fall in love in Cameron’s Britain
Half the working population of Britain are about to lose the right to fall in love with someone overseas.
By Ian Dunt Follow @IanDunt
In almost every government department, actions are being taken which give the rich greater rights than the poor. Under the guise of deficit reduction, those on low-to-middle wages are stripped of their ability to secure legal aid, robbing them of fair representation under the law. If you use a library, the local council will do its best to strip it of the pitiful funds it receives while slashing corporation tax for the book shop chain next door.
This barren division also applies to immigration. Those with net assets of at least £1 million can enter when they like and stay for as long as they like. They are not required to meet any English language requirements – only the poor will be forced to learn a language in Cameron's Britain. We invite in the impossibly rich playboys, the jet-set from the Middle East and Latin America, who refuse to participate in British society. But it is acceptable, because they are rich. The fact that their appalling wealth drives up property prices and stokes resentment in the general population means nothing to a government that prostitutes ethical and social issues in the name of money.
If you're poor, it's a different story. From student immigration to working visas, the government is intent on making it harder to come here. Now they want to ban Brits from falling in love with them too.
A speech from David Cameron last month saw him demand information on raising the minimum income level for those sponsoring family members coming to join them in the UK. This applies to residents – people who have come to the UK from another country and earned the right to stay – but it also applies to British citizens, who might meet someone overseas and fall in love with them.
The Migration Advisory Committee did the sums and announced this morning that the salary would need to be somewhere between £18,700 and £25,700. It will almost certainly be accepted and implemented. That means half the working population of Britain are about to lose the right to fall in love with someone overseas and bring them home to live together. Only the rich can fall in love on holiday. Only the rich are allowed to live with the person they love. The poor must be apart, or leave their own country.
Defenders say this is the only way to make sure these dependents aren't a burden on state funds. That's true, for what it's worth. That's one goal, but politics is not about goals. It is about competing goods. Everyone wants healthy public finances and it's sensible of the government to pursue it. But people should also want to live in a country which will allows them to live with whoever they fall in love with, regardless of country or circumstance. Those are the competing goods, and it's perfectly obvious which one the government, and most of the press, will opt for.
What kind of a country would make that choice? How mean-spirited and cynical have we become, that this is our decision? We're so desperate to cut immigration we will force middle-income Brits to leave the country rather than allow them to fall in love with someone outside the EU.
To make matters worse, cutting immigration doesn't even improve the economy. Actually it worsens our prospects. Research shows the immigration cap will force another 9p on income tax, as we try to care for an aging population without an influx of younger workers. Even the Lords economic affairs committee found immigration to be economically neutral, despite ignoring its overall impact on GDP, a view opposed by many experts. On a more general level, you don't find the next generation of success and innovation by only allowing the rich in. It's the people who come here with nothing, who travel the globe looking for opportunity, who will succeed. Closing the door on them is short-sighted lunacy.
The appalling unemployment figures yesterday showed something interesting. While more and more Brits lost jobs, foreigners were gaining them. Eager, happy, good-natured and grateful for work, they took more than 12,000 jobs a month. The Express reported that foreigners had 'taken' the jobs, as if they were a vase stolen from a museum. That's our attitude to immigration now – ignorant, mean and against our better nature. It’s a barrier to the improvement of ourselves.
Before this latest assault, we could at least content ourselves with the fact that it only applied to non-Brits. Now, British citizens are losing their rights as well. If you earn the average wage, you'd better hope you never meet a nice girl on holiday. You're about to lose the right to live together.
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