Home Secretary focuses on immigration and asylum. “We will be humane to those who need help; tough on those who abuse it".
Generally, Home Secretary’s have a short political life span but as Theresa May took to the stage at Manchester you could tell she remains a commanding figure after five years in post. Mrs May was also there to be serious, gone were the leopard print shoes, and she stood at the podium in a black dress that screamed ‘I’m here to get the job done.’ Overall, an impressive lady.
Mrs May’s first comments were to pay tribute to murdered officer PC Phillips saying that his death was a reminder of the dangers the police face day in, day out. But the rest of the time at the podium was focused on asylum and immigration, issues that have seen exasperated Conservatives migrate to UKIP shores.
In an at times repetitive speech with many sobering statistics, Mrs May pledged to reduce the numbers claiming in Britain while taking in the "most vulnerable" refugees from conflict zones around the world. Using stark language she was keen to make the distinction between economic migrants and those fleeing for their lives.
The latter centered on refugees caused by “war crimes on an industrial scale” in Syria. Mrs May also said we must take action against ISIL in Syria who were carrying out “ethnic cleansing.” Britain should be proud of the aid it was giving to the area and the commitment to resettle 20,000 from refugee camps.
Turning to immigration overall, using language criticized after her speech in some quarters, Mrs May said there was no case in the national interest for immigration to the levels seen over the last decade. She added that migration at such a high level made a cohesive society impossible. Britain she said did not need hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year and that British tradition was for society to see gradual, moderate and sensible change.
Singling out student visas, Mrs May made it clear that too many on completion of their studies were remaining in the UK without employment. Again she bluntly said “Students Yes: Over-stayers No.”
The Home Secretary then described the asylum system as one that had been “abused for years.” Announcing a new asylum strategy, the first ever in the UK, she had a message for human rights lawyers, who must have caused many frustrations over the past few years. “Don’t frustrate the process,” she said because it delays getting help to those who really need it.
The solutions seemed to be from a British and not European source. Conjuring up Thatcher-like resolve Mrs May stated that ‘Not in a thousand years would she sign up to an EU asylum policy” and that progress could only be found by states protecting their own nation’s borders.
The Home Secretary also backed the Prime Minister’s position to target the benefit system and address the attractiveness of the UK to economic migrants. Local Councils, she added, through the aid budget, will get the help they need to cope with arriving refugees and there will be a register set up to document those individuals, businesses and organizations that wish to help.
The speech won the approval of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who tweeted: "Nice to see Theresa May repeating so much of what I have said about uncontrolled migration. Let's hope she means it."