Win­drush les­sons ig­nored, says Lon­don’s mayor

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Peter Walker Po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent

Lon­don’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has de­manded that changes must be made to the gov­ern­ment’s planned post-Brexit im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, say­ing that forc­ing long-es­tab­lished EU na­tion­als to pay fees to stay showed min­is­ters had not learned the les­sons of the Win­drush scan­dal.

The Labour mayor said in a let­ter to Sa­jid Javid, the home sec­re­tary, that the wider im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, in­clud­ing plans to re­strict im­mi­gra­tion to skilled peo­ple earn­ing above £30,000 a year, would badly dam­age Lon­don’s econ­omy.

Khan, who sup­ports a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, un­like of­fi­cial Labour party pol­icy, said in his let­ter that the im­mi­gra­tion white paper, pub­lished just be­fore Christ­mas, was dis­ap­point­ing in its con­tents and tone. “The promised ‘new con­ver­sa­tion on im­mi­gra­tion’ is off to a poor start,” he said.

The mayor called for the re­moval of the £65 fee that mil­lions of EU na­tion­als will need to pay to ap­ply for so-called set­tled sta­tus, liken­ing it to the er­rors that re­sulted in some mem­bers of the Win­drush gen­er­a­tion be­ing tar­geted for im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment when they could not prove their sta­tus.

“There are hun­dreds of thou­sands of young peo­ple who were born in the UK or, like the Win­drush gen­er­a­tion, brought here as young chil­dren, who are pre­vented from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the eco­nomic, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal life of the UK by the pro­hib­i­tive cost of ap­ply­ing for leave to re­main or cit­i­zen­ship,” Khan wrote.

“While the pre­vi­ous home sec­re­tary rightly waived fees for the Win­drush gen­er­a­tion, the gov­ern­ment clearly has not learnt the wider les­sons. There are many oth­ers still at risk from the same poli­cies that led to the Win­drush gen­er­a­tion ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion, des­ti­tu­tion and de­por­ta­tion.”

Khan ar­gued that the plan to re­strict im­mi­gra­tion “sim­ply won’t al­low Lon­don to con­tinue to grow its econ­omy and pro­vide cru­cial pub­lic ser­vices”.

He wants the of­fi­cial “short­age oc­cu­pa­tion list”, which would help peo­ple move to the UK to take roles that need to be filled, to be ex­panded to as­sist the needs of Lon­don and pos­si­bly de­volved to the cap­i­tal.

Jas­mine Whit­bread, who heads the Lon­don First group of lead­ing em­ploy­ers, pushed for a re­duc­tion in the min­i­mum salary to the level of the Lon­don liv­ing wage, cur­rently £20,155, “to avoid a re­cruit­ment cliff-edge, keep the UK open to a range of skills and en­sure work­ers are de­cently paid”.

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