Illegal immigrants who have been in the UK for 10 years or more but have kept out of trouble should benefit from an amnesty, Boris Johnson has suggested.
These are not new views since the question of an amnesty was brought up when Boris was mayor of London and also when an unsympathetic Theresa May was Prime Minister but he reiterated them in the Commons on Thursday.
The figure involved is estimated to be about 500,000, some of whom might be Indian. Critics argue that an amnesty will reward those who broke the law and only encourage further illegal immigration. The question was asked by Bangladeshi-origin Labour MP Rupa Huq, whose younger sister Konnie Huq was once a popular TV presenter before marriage and motherhood.
Rupa asked Boris: “As London mayor, the Prime Minister courted popularity with pledging an amnesty for illegal immigrants … Now that he is in a position to do something about (it)… is he a man of his word?”
Boris emphasised his liberal credentials by replying: “As for the amnesty on illegal immigrants, it is absolutely true that I have raised it several times since I was in government, and I must say, it did not receive an overwhelming endorsement from the previous Prime Minister when I raised it once in cabinet.
“I think that our arrangements, in theoretically being committed to the expulsion of perhaps half a million people who do not have the correct papers, and who may have been living and working here for many, many years without being involved in any criminal activity at all — I think that legal position is anomalous.
“We saw the difficulties that that kind of problem occasioned in the Windrush fiasco (relating to immigrants from the Caribbean).
“We know the difficulties that can be caused and I do think — I will answer the honourable lady directly — that we need to look at our arrangements for people who have lived and worked here for a long time, unable to enter the economy and to participate properly or pay taxes, without documents.
“We should look at it.
“The truth is that the law already basically allows them an effective amnesty—that is basically where things have settled down — but we should look at the economic advantages and disadvantages of going ahead with the policy that she described, and on which I think she and I share a view.” Rupa could be seen nodding in agreement with perhaps even a touch of admiration for the Prime Minister.
A dog for Larry
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested getting a dog for his Downing Street office to join current resident Larry the Cat.
Johnson took office earlier this week, walking through the black front door of Number 10 Downing Street for the first time after setting out a desire to defy his critics over Brexit and bring a decisive new leadership style to Britain’s top job.
During an address to staff he asked whether they would like a dog, a source with knowledge of the meeting said on Friday. The staff replied with an enthusiastic “Yes”.
Downing Street, the nerve centre of British government for nearly 300 years, is already home to a brown and white tabby cat who carries the official title, “Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office”.
Appointed in 2011, Larry has outlasted two former Prime Ministers: David Cameron and Theresa May. He has become a celebrity in his own right, with an unofficial Twitter account which uses some of the thousands of pictures taken by photographers.
- Additional reporting from Reuters