What will cause this flow of migrants to stop? The answer may well be “nothing”by Jay Elwes / January 27, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Immigration is Cameron’s biggest challenge
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In three ill-chosen words, the Prime Minister summoned up the largest question facing not only Britain, but also Europe and the United States. The “bunch of migrants” to which David Cameron referred at Prime Ministers’ Questions were specifically those who huddle in the desolate wastelands around the French port town of Calais, an unprepossessing place at the best of times, its defining characteristic being the access that it offers to mainland Britain. But that camp is just one of many similar ones, its inhabitants a small fraction of the many millions of people now dispersed across Europe who have made their way to the countries of the European Union in search of a better life.
The semantic colour of the word “bunch” is open to debate—whether it is derogatory to the extent suggested by Labour MPs is uncertain. More than the word itself, Cameron fell foul of his occasional tendency to deploy a somewhat dismissive, rather didactic tone, and in this case it jarred with the subject matter at hand. Immigration is the defining political question of our time. More than the last remnants of the financial crisis, the deficit, EU membership or the ructions of the Chinese economy, nothing has a greater power, or triggers a greater reaction among British voters than the question of immigration.
Those on the left have always welcomed the immigrants who not only propel economic growth but whose presence helps the development of a multicultural society of equals. Those on the right have tended to accept immigration as a necessary consequence of the open liberal economy which, to maximise growth, must draw in as much talent as possible.
But those arguments are losing their grip. Dissatisfaction with immigration is now spreading across global politics like a rash. Danish politicians are introducing a scheme under which immigrants will have valuables confiscated and sold to pay for their upkeep. Angela Merkel is facing vicious political opposition at home for her…