Windrush lessons ignored, says London’s mayor
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”.