Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Immigration and the European Union

Sir Andrew Green KCMG
Sir Richard Shepherd MP



Chairman of MigrationWatch UK
Click here to view Sir Andrew's power point presentation


Champion for more open and transparent government

Click here to listen online to Sir Andrew Green
Click here to listen online to Richard Shepherd MP



Sir Andrew Green was a professional diplomat for 35 years. He is the Chairman of MigrationWatch UK. Asked how he came to be involved in migration issues, Sir Andrews said that he first became aware of the problem when he was the Foreign Secretary’s principal adviser on the Middle East in the mid-90s. At that time he spent two years trying, on the Prime Minister instructions, to remove from Britain Islamic extremists who were claiming asylum but was frustrated by the British courts.

MigrationWatch UK was founded in 2001 by Sir Andrew after he decided that immigration was a matter which should be brought to the attention of the public. MigrationWatch UK is an independent organisation; who believe that the public are entitled to know the facts about the numbers coming into Britain.

Richard Shepherd is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Aldridge Brownhills. He has been a champion for more open and transparent government and is known and respected for the long campaign he fought for freedom of information. Richard Shepherd is also a campaigner against compulsory metrication.

He has had a distinguished Parliamentary career. Previously he has been a winner of both the Spectator's Award as Backbencher of the Year and Parliamentarian of the Year. Richard Shepherd was also a Maastricht Rebel and fought for a referendum on that Treaty. He lost the Whip in November 1994 after voting against the European Communities (Finance) Bill, but had it returned four months later.

Speech by Sir Andrew Green

My subject tonight is immigration and the impact of the EU. Now both these topics, both immigration and the EU are matters of very considerable concern to the electorate and yet strangely they are very seldom discussed on their merits. Indeed immigration is seldom discussed at all for fear I think of being branded as either a xenophobe or a racist or both.

Well as the Chairman said, having spent my career in the Foreign Service I am not in the least bit concerned about either of those charges.

I’m going to speak for about 20 minutes and then take questions to cover the points of most interest to you. I suggest that if we are to carry conviction on European matters and immigration matters then we must be clear where they overlap and reinforce and where they don’t, so I will try to disentangle those two subjects a little. I’m going to start by sketching out the scale and nature of the immigration problem that our country now faces, then I’ll go on to outline the European aspects and I’ll conclude by suggesting a constructive way forward.

But first of all the problem. We are not opposed to immigration and still less to immigrants, but we do think the number has got out of hand, we do think that the Government have lost control of the borders; I would have thought that that was obvious. Immigration on a modest scale is a natural part of an open economy and we favour that. We don’t favour what is going on now but it is a surprisingly new problem.

As you can see from this, this is the net immigration into England and actually there was no immigration until the early 80s, it was emigration, a net outflow of people. But it wasn’t until 1997 that the numbers started to rise very sharply indeed and they rose as a result of action and inaction by the Government. So talk of a nation of immigrants is frankly claptrap. The foreign immigration is now running at about a third of a million a year or 900 a day, that’s net. So in total there have been roughly three million net immigration into Britain in the last ten years, that’s the ones we know about, there are also of course illegal immigrants of the order of maybe three quarters of a million. So perhaps it’s not surprising that public concern has mounted over that time.

Quite intriguing, a lot of concern in 79/80, when I think Mrs Thatcher raised it as an election issue, when during the years of Conservative Government as it happens, virtually no interest and people felt that it was a matter that was being dealt with satisfactorily and surprise surprise from 1997 it started to shoot up. And of course that point is the financial crisis of last autumn and now immigration is second equal with crime. I think something like economy is top with 65%, immigration and crime about 30% and then you get down to trivial matters like health and education which are 15%.

So what’s the impact of all this? Well the impact on the population is frankly enormous. This shows you the impact on England, almost all immigration is to England by the way, about 95% of foreign immigration and on the Government’s own figures our population will increase by ten million in the next 20 years and 70% of that will be a result of immigration. These are their numbers not mine. And here you can see the red is the principle projection, that is what the Office for National Statistics think is the most likely future and you can see what that is doing.

There are other scenarios, a higher assumption [recording jumps] if there is no migration at all you get the pale blue and this is England so we’re looking at a population now of 51, the UK being 61. So if there’s no immigration at all you get the pale blue, if you had balanced migration that’s one in, one out you get this darker grey and the red is what the Government expect.

Now clearly when you go up to 2031 it gets less likely, less accurate, but the history over the last 50 years is that the ONS get it right on a 20 year forecast the ONS get it right to within a few percent. So if you look at 2031 or 2028 that probably is what will happen, 60 million in England, 70 million in the UK.

So that’s what happens to population, now another way of looking at the impact is to look at the number of births to mothers born outside the UK and as you can see the proportion since 1971 or indeed since 1997 has doubled. Now nearly one child in four is born to a foreign born mother and so both the proportion and the numbers have doubled.

It also means we’ve got to build one or two houses. 40% of all new households in the next 20 odd years are as a result of immigration, 39 to be precise. Now the Government frankly tried to conceal that and you will find it if you look at their statistical release page about 50 annex, about 30 bottom line and do the arithmetic that’s the answer, two out of five new houses or new homes are required for new immigrants.

And what’s the benefit of this? The House of Lords conducted the only major survey ever conducted in Britain of the economic value of immigration and they concluded that there was no significant benefit to the rest of the population. Surprise surprise they’ve done similar surveys in Australia, Holland, United States, Canada all major reviews and they came to exactly the same conclusion. How the Government have got away with it all these years I do not know but they got blown out of the water by the House of Lords and they thoroughly deserved it.

So why do these people come? Clearly there is benefit to immigrants, that’s why they come but these are the categories in which they have come and I said at the beginning that they come as a result of Government action and inaction so you can see here that these are spouses which have doubled since the regulations were loosened in 1997, this is asylum which got out of control and is now we hope coming back under control and the red line is work permits which the Government have trebled as a matter of policy.

So that’s an outline of the problem if you like. Let me turn now to the European aspects, which will be perhaps of particular interest to you.

I think it’s fairly clear that free access to about 500 million people is not the best recipe for border control, but I would put it to you that it’s not entirely hopeless. This graph separates out EU migration and non-EU migration. If you can see the bottom of the screen, this golden line is British emigration, which you can see has doubled to about 100,000 in the last ten years, doubled from 50 to 100,000. If you look at the top line, this is what has happened to migration from outside the European Union and again that has roughly trebled and this is the key though, it looks a sort of magenta-blue kind of line this one here. What this shows you is migration from the EU, 15 effectively. And here is the blip that came after the addition of Spain, Portugal and Greece and it came down practically to zero and here is the huge blip when Eastern Europeans were admitted in 2004.

So I would argue that over time Eastern European migration will fall back and that the real problem lies in the Third World. And one of the key questions is how soon Eastern European migration will fall back. There is some anecdotal evidence that people are going home and some statistics today suggested that the numbers going home are increasing, others are staying on, some are bringing their families over and some apparently who went home to Poland couldn’t get a job are coming back here. So the pattern is very unclear but there are a number of reasons why in the end it will come into balance.

The first is that their economies will catch up with ours, secondly their populations are falling fast, thirdly in two years time the rest of the European Union will have to open their borders and lastly the exchange rate has gone through the floor for Eastern European workers.

There’s one other point which is arithmetical, it’s so obvious that you won’t have thought of it. It is that with a million odd people already here, as they start to drift back that's an awful lot of people going back; they’re not all here forever. So given the huge lump that’s arrived, then arithmetically a fair number will start to come back and then the two will meet and it will come into balance.

Of course Romania and Bulgaria will take longer, both countries in a shambles and a recent Romanian Government survey found that 600,000 people in Romania were quite determined to emigrate and the top preference for their destination was, I think you’ve guessed it, yeah UK 21%, Spain 16%, Italy 11%, so we are the Eldorado. But the good news is that in the long term those countries have declining populations whereas the Third World hasn’t, which brings me to Turkey.

Now Turkey does not have a declining population, far from it. It is the wild card in our demographic future. To open our borders to 80 and perhaps by then 100 million Turks strikes me as extremely foolish. We’ve all heard the strategic arguments for including Turkey in the European Union, I’m not here to talk about strategy and politics but my own view of those arguments is that they are rubbish and there’s certainly nothing set against the likely impact on our own society of such a massive addition to the likely flow of migrants into this country and others. And we should not allow ourselves to be fobbed off with transitional periods and all that kind of stuff, they all come to an end, in two years time 70 million people from the A8 will be fully entitled to the welfare state and that transitional period went by in a flash. But as usual the Government and the opposition are stone deaf when it comes to the ‘I word’; I think they need to wake up to the consequences of their timidity.

Now as regards immigration from the rest of the world, as you know we’re not part of Schengen, their visas are not valid for us and the Government have not opted into any of the directives on immigration and therefore from that point of view we are to some extent separate from Europe and fairly effectively.

Now I’m going to shorten my remarks at this point because there is a paper on asylum matters. It’s a very good survey by the way of EU asylum policy but its 30 pages long and there are some annexes that are 20 pages long, so its really... its there as a service to the public for anyone who wants to know about that, they can go to our website or they can pick up that copy.

I’m going to jump straight to an opinionated conclusion about their asylum policy. Is it a pointless bureaucracy? Well largely. There is some limited benefit because the Dublin arrangements allow us to send back people who have claimed elsewhere in Europe, but of course guess what? The people traffickers have thought of that so they tell their guys, don’t you go claiming in France or Greece or anywhere, you get over to England, make your claim there and they can’t send you back, and so we can’t.

Does one size fit all? Of course not but for so long as we stay out of Schengen as I most certainly hope we will, then we will never fit the pattern.

Is it mission creed by the Commission? Well obviously. Is it meat and drink for the asylum lobby? You bet. Is it a disaster for Britain? Well no, as usual the footwork has been quite good. Most of these directives and 50 pages of them at least – well more than that – have been moulded so that they conform pretty well to what the UK did anyway. The problem now is of course that the Commission wants to go further, quite apart from wanting to have great immunity with everything, they want to have not just minimum standards, they want common standards and that is running into trouble. The Government actually plucked up the courage to opt out of the last asylum directive so there is hope. Perhaps they realise that public patience is wearing very thin.

Let me move on to what can be done. Now I would argue that EU membership poses some problems for immigration control but they’re not the only problems and they’re not the main ones. The main problem is the political feebleness that surrounds this subject. None of the three major parties will seriously address the issues despite the widespread public concern, they are all bluffing and if you look at their manifestos for the EU elections you will see that they are – I have to watch my words here – extremely feeble.

In the short term of course this is a big help to UKIP, which is the only fairly major party to have the courage even to address the subject. UKIP have got the courage to address the issue and they will benefit from it but in the longer term there is a serious risk of leaving the field wide open to the BNP and that is extremely unfortunate. Because you see Labour are bluffing, when they talk about a tough Australian-based system, it’s not tough, it’s not Australian style because the Australians start from the limit and select within it, so its simply untrue. But the Conservatives are bluffing when they talk about a cap on work permits because work permits are only one small part of the problem. And the Liberal Democrats are bluffing with their attacks on illegal immigration and their total silence on all the key issues.

What is needed finally is a clear policy objective, which is exactly what the House of Lords suggested. At the moment, I don’t know whether you’ll believe this or not, but at the moment the number of people who come to this country is a kind of accidental result of hundreds of pages of immigration laws, not to speak of court judgements on asylum matters, its an accidental result. The Government have no policy on how many people they want to have in this country and no policy on what population they want in this country. So if it goes from 60 to 70 to 80 million, well that’s unfortunate. It’s amazing. So the first step is to have a policy, the second step is to split work permits from settlement, then you cap the settlement, you tighten various other rules and actually you get to what we want to see which is balanced migration, that is to bring the number of immigrants down pretty well to the level of the number of emigrants.

And these are the benefits that you would gain. Now you’ll find all that set out in a green booklet which is available out there for free. It’s the Balanced Migration booklet and look on the website, if you put in MigrationWatch to Google you’ll find it and it is all there.

So I rather hope, in conclusion, that the forthcoming EU elections will be an opportunity for the public to speak up loud and clear so that the leaders of the major parties take note and take action. I think they need to do so soon if we’re to be able to cope with the chaotic situation that they have allowed to develop, a situation which I think places at risk the future wellbeing of our society.

Speech by Richard Shepherd MP

I wanted to just put a puzzle, but in a sense it’s been answered. The puzzle was during the last election, a man from an adjoining constituency came and helped me in our beleaguered campaign and I asked what did he do, ‘oh I’m Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools’. And he really wanted to put to me the proposition that he had been inspecting a school from Ealing. I toured schools for my learning and indeed I rested in Ealing for a couple of terms or a couple of years and it was a suburban or outer London fine borough. It was recognisable with gardens and houses and everyone I looked at... I was puzzled, why did he say this about Ealing?

And he said in the school that he’d been to there were 27 people in a class, children in a class, met all the Government’s figures and there were 24 languages. And he said he was very worried that there would be an explosion because I just ask you, any one of you here, if your child went to a school in a local authority where there were 27 children and 24 of them spoke a different language, do you not feel that your child is not getting the opportunity to learn that we reasonably expect every child to have. The teachers were under enormous pressure he said, they drafted in at great expense linguists, but it’s beyond the resources of our system.

Why, when you hear our very distinguished speakers’ analysis, hasn’t there been a revolt? Why isn’t this central to one of two great issues that the public identify at the heart of debate in the Commons? That’s the puzzle, why, what’s happened to our political processes?

And there were two great seminal acts that happened in the last 60 years that profoundly altered our constitution. The first was the Council of Europe. Everyone thinks of the Court of Human Rights as somehow been there always, non-contentious or anything. Who joined us into this organisation? It was a Labour Government, but what is carefully forgotten and lost is this was an enormously difficult in those days decision for a Labour Government. Lord Jowett was the Lord Chancellor and what he was frightened of – not frightened because we weren’t frightened, we’d won a war – Europe was the anxiety, the march of communism from the East, the strengthening of the mere democracies of course, Czechoslovakia fell, Hungary had fallen etc, they wanted strengthening of human rights as we now call it.

The British Government understood civil liberties. The debate was there’s nothing wrong with civil liberties, they’re fundamental to our view of what Britain is from the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights right through, civil liberties. And they consoled themselves with the thought, well this is really just a putting together of our traditional liberties. No, no says the jurist, this is putting a court above all our law and our legal system. Yes you know the weariness of the great and the good, yes but they can never bring us in front of this court, we are the sort of father of these great ambitions for Europe. And indeed on that basis the decision was taken by Labour Government with a majority of six just prior to the 1952 Election.

And indeed it came to pass just as those well said for just 12 years and Britain lost its first case in front of the European Court of Justice. The European Court of Justice as you probably all know is, with the exception of Ireland and England, a civic jurisdiction, civic law jurisdiction whereas we are a common law tradition, allegiance to the law which was crafted over a very long time was deep in the soul of Britons.

So that was the first thing. We had set the greatest constitutional revolution for I guess 1000 years one can claim, but 400 years/500 years whatever you want, that was an enormous revolution.

And one of the inhibitions that our distinguished visitor notes when passing is that the determination of whom may come here and on what grounds they may claim asylum is now no longer made ultimately in our legal courts but ultimately by the European Court in Strasbourg.

And there is something very important about the European Court in Strasbourg, although you could read the first draft and in fact the first act of what their competencies were, you would have difficulty in not thinking but this rests on the English tradition. And it is true, there are words and phrases within it that are lifted from the Bill of Rights, you will find some of those words and phrases identically in the American Constitution, the first ten amendments, this is the continuum and there they are in the European Convention on Human Rights.

But no court is static, they are interpretive and as an international court it takes upon itself the right to seek legal parallels and at the heart of those are United Nations Conventions. And through their annexing in their judgements, European judgements, the United Nations’ Conventions, which have never been legislated for by our domestic law, we take on a whole body of the goodwill of our ambassadors who have encouraged governments to sign up to some of these. United Nations Convention on the child, this is the one great struggle that the British Government currently has, and what is it about, reasonable chastisement. The United Nations Convention banishes what the opponents of reasonable chastisement say is brutalising or intimidating children. They are moving to try and get us to cease this; we are in contravention they claim of an obligation in international law.

So that’s one blow to the system of our constitution and then not long after that we joined, hooray hooray, the European communities and the European Communities Act, which was fiercely fought – I would have loved to have been there when it was going through and joining those – but I was one just like many of you in this room might have been who believed in free trade. We need to energise competition, we wanted to have the cold shower of reasonableness that comes through the interchange of economies etc and Britain was in decline. And would not competitiveness reawaken the vigour that extended us as to one of the great commercial powers in the world.

Unfortunately it wasn’t quite like that because what’s contained in that? Within days, weeks, months they claimed they had a legal competence. The European Court, not mentioned in the Treaties, the European Court took upon itself – no court in Britain has done this, we do it by the development of common law – took upon itself the right to adjudicate down to important issues of national and domestic policy. We had sold another pass.

And although you’ve – I can see you’re all of a generation... well not all of you, sorry, I know we’re all elderly/middle aged of course – but you will see what’s happened. Our courts now are dependent courts so that’s that.

Now what’s happened in politics? We’ve had a peasants’ revolt in the Commons, it is outrageous isn’t it to think, a supine body – I can’t say this of the Lords – has now given over to the great struggle that has characterized our development as a democracy, all power to the Crown in Downing Street. I’ve seen romantic Conservatives in the Commons who said that the Queen shouldn’t sign this; it’s contrary to her Coronation Oath. And although that may be so, there is a Coronation Oath, the fact remains the Crown isn’t at that end of the mall, the Crown is across Whitehall where, in Downing Street.

We won the struggle to cage the King, we lost the struggle to cage the Crown and so when a Minister stands in front of them they have all the imperium of being the Crown. Treaties are negotiated by the Crown, the prerogative power, there is no necessity for them to ever come before Parliament unless they have within them something like the European Communities Act or the formation of the Strasbourg Court, they would not have authority here. That is what we surrendered. And in doing that looking back at 66, looking back we hollowed out, hollowed out the absolute essence of what was England and for that matter Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland, we subordinated the people of England to new masters.

I put it in rousing language but that is the substance of that argument, who did it, why they did it, they weren’t there, the Macavity’s of our history, but they burgled it. And what they left behind was a dominant executive with a Commons that looked for patronage rather than the duty for which they were elected, which was to hold the executive to account.

Using those very words has an echo of fustiness now doesn’t it? Its meaningless to most of the people of England, its meaningless to the people of England that caused a revolution, that sought the overthrow of Kings that asserted – I’m not saying this was an easy course and I’m not trying to pretend that this was democracy, but ours was a long march of every man to secure that democracy and for a brief period I believe it flourished in this country. The Commons could change governments, a bad Minister and a bad speech meant he went.

I’ll tell you something telling, I don’t remember what the Bill was but Mrs Thatcher, who is the patroness of course of this great society, sat in a debate. Gosh the Prime Minister sitting through a debate, what an indignity. She sat through a debate and became glummer and glummer as she heard the argument of the opposition. She turned to the Chief Whip and said ‘we cannot proceed with this’, she had not won the argument, we the government had not won the argument.

Can you imagine any modern government that we’ve had certainly in the last 11 years being troubled about winning an argument? That’s the difference, times change, great landslides blot out the collective memory of great institutions. I would argue that Parliament has lost its sense of itself; it cannot distinguish between the princes that parade on my side and the princes that parade on the other side that can barely waste a minute in the Commons.

It was a joy once to see when the new Peace Bill was going through for Northern Ireland but I know he is a popular Minister, but Mandelson was at that time Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and he had pumped himself up to deliver the third reading speech of the triumphs of New Labour naturally, unfortunately the great device that they’d used to suppress the Commons is the guillotine. The Government has the right to initiate everything that goes to the floor of the House of Commons. There are only two great exceptions, private member’s bills consigned to a Friday that can be lost in the committee room upstairs and opposition days and they expanded those to 18 trivial days whilst new princes parade with policies they don’t believe in for three hours at a time and speak for two and a half of them so back benchers can’t even get in. That’s the new politics, it is only two armies clashing and I’m not even a spear holder but I can throw a spear sometimes and do and so do good people when they can get the eye of the speaker.

That’s where we’ve got to and at the heart of our frustrations and our disappointments and inability to argue this in the Commons, the first time I heard of Sir Andrew Green, the first time I heard the argument set forth in the early stages of this was when Nicholas Soames had an adjournment debate, an adjournment debate. This is something that was cast at the end of a long day, Members had long ago disappeared so he speaks to an empty chamber and he puts out the argument. Does a Government Minister answer these questions? No why would he bother and anyway isn’t it better we’ve discovered spin? You’re racists, that’s what you are.

I sit in my surgery and people say ordinary things that were part of the conversation of things, ‘ooh I shouldn’t have said that’ they say. They do it half mockingly, ‘it’s not politically correct’ they say. In those little expressions you see the vitality drain away from what was an argumentative, difficult England to govern, Scotland to govern with all its passions and where we came from and that’s what we’re reduced to.

Now the peasants’ revolt that happened was because Labour, in its arrogance, they don’t have to attend, they weren’t even conscious that there was a speaker of the House of Commons. He did what he was expected to do, that was part of our history at one time. The King wanted to have the speaker as his man, it doesn’t work always and now you see the disintegration of Parliament, the contempt that is heard.

Of course when I joined, when our Chairman joined, there was a little purse and it was called expenses and the answer of the fees office, whatever the question was, was no. It was very depressing sometimes because people were genuinely hard up and I may have low expenses but they look to me and my mother, who was from Glasgow, enormously high, enormously high.

I was born in Aberdeen and as you well know Aberdonians have sporrans made of granite and no chisels allowed nearby.

So that is where we’ve got to, if you’ve got a little purse and they’re worried about it, given them a suitcase and we’ve got whips who will ensure that the fees office understands the meaning of the necessity of these great people. I am a Richard Shepherd MP, when I was a boy Member of Parliament meant something, now it is almost a matter of scorn and derision.

So how, without the power to initiate in the Commons, a power that went under the Jopling Committee reforms never debated, never in fact discussed during the debates on the Jopling Committee reforms, which looked for something called time tabling, does the Commons timetable its business? Oh yes because it’s voted on. Who crafts the motion, the Government.

And so you have a passion, you have spent your life arguing for something; it is on the order paper, who selects the amendments for discussion? The speaker of the House of Commons.

So if it is the most contentious issue and he puts it as the last item of a three hour guillotine to discuss a 600 page bill with 47 proportions that would get your blood boiling, you’ll never reach it and that’s how we are managed. It is shaming. So this immigration we’d never feature and we have all those and we’ve seen the grotesqueness of it revealed, spin is the master that keeps the Crown in Downing Street, that keeps the Commission in Brussels and keeps the Court in Strasbourg. They’re doing it for our own good and we are impotent, we have to revolt. That was the history.

Contact us

Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
246 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street
London W1B 5TB
United Kingdom
Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames