Posted on Sep 10, 2017
Tony Blair has called for tough new immigration rules which would allow Britain to exercise more control over who comes into the country without leaving the EU.
In something of an about turn, the former prime minister admitted that the open borders that he himself called for and presided are not appropriate and is now calling for tighter domestic controls and the negotiation of modified free movement rules with the EU.
This would fulfil the will of the people expressed in last year's Brexit vote while allowing Britain to stay in the EU, he said.
The full extent of this volte-face is revealed in a report from the Tony Blair Institute, authored by former Downing Street policy expert Harvey Redgrave, which calls on the Government to force EU immigrants to register on arriving in the UK so authorities can check on their activities, (a measure already in place in other EU member states) and to require EU nationals to provide evidence of a confirmed job offer before they enter the UK.
We can curtail the things that people feel are damaging about European immigration, both by domestic policy change and by agreeing change within Europe
It also called for the Government to ban those without permission from renting a home, opening a bank account, or accessing benefits and introduce “discriminatory” controls to restrict EU immigrants' access to free NHS care if they are “economically inactive”, the latter being a blatantly populist move which would find traction with the pro-Brexit demographic.
This may be seen, however, as little more than 'symbolic policy' - policy that has little or no chance of ever being implemented - intended to place Mr. Blair on the front pages of the tabloids.
Whilst the former PM is urging Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party to support his proposals, it is highly unlikely that such a thing could happen.
Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis has however supported the proposals on immigration controls. Adonis believes a majority of peers in the House of Lords will support an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill – now passing through the Commons – requiring another referendum before Brexit takes effect, with the options being to accept the deal on offer, or to remain in the EU.
Writing in the Observer, he said "If Chancellor Merkel and President Macron make an offer, probably over the heads of the British government, for the UK to stay in the economic institutions of the EU but with national control over immigration, then I believe the referendum can be won."
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