IF, like me, you voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, you are probably very used to being demonised as a knuckle-dragging racist who hates all foreigners and who looks back with nostalgia to the days of Empire when two-thirds of the world’s map was pink.
In my experience, nothing could be further than the truth. In the many conversations I’ve held with fellow Brexiteers, I cannot recall a single occasion when the issue of race was mentioned. Not once.
It is true that I’ve heard many concerns about the impact of open doors immigration on wages, housing and services such as health and education – but even these usually took second place to issues about sovereignty and the desire to reclaim our democracy from the clutches of the unelected, unaccountable EU.
If anyone is racist here, it is the pro-EU side. After all, they support an immigration system that discriminates in favour of unskilled workers from predominantly white countries and against software engineers and orthopaedic surgeons from, for example, Kenya, India or Jamaica. Is it because they are black? The simple truth is that the EU is institutionally racist.
Wouldn’t if be far better if we entirely disregarded the colour of people’s skins and where they come from and judged potential immigrants to the UK on the skills they can bring to our country?
Until now, we have not been able to do this as we are beholden to the EU’s racist free movement regulations.
But once we are free of the EU, we are at liberty to welcome the best and brightest from around the world – regardless of race or origin.
That is why I generally welcome the Government’s new post-Brexit immigration policy released in a White Paper this week.
In what is described as the biggest shake-up of immigration policy for 40 years, Home Secretary Sajid Javid – himself the son of Pakistani immigrants – promised the new system would be based on the skills the UK needs, and not on where the immigrants come from.
The White Paper proposes that from 2021 a newly independent UK should scrap the current cap on skilled workers such as doctors and engineers from the EU and the rest of the world.
It also suggests that immigrant workers applying for a five-year visa to work in the UK temporarily should be subject to a salary requirement – £30,000 a year has been mooted.
Mr Javid added that the new measures would demonstrate that once outside the EU the UK would be “open for business”.
The Government says that lower skilled and unskilled migrants will not routinely be able to come to the UK and settle permanently, but people from “low-risk countries” will be able to come without a job offer and seek work for up to a year.
This latter point has horrified groups such as Migration Watch, which accused the Government of caving into the demands of industry to maintain a supply of cheap labour.
I understand these concerns, but at least our immigration policy will be under the control of our own democratically-elected government and we won’t have to beg for permission to change our laws from the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker.
Taken as a whole, immigration is a good thing – it benefits the immigrant and his or her family by opening up new opportunities and it benefits the economy of the host country.
And let’s not forget that some of the most successful countries in the world were largely built on the backs of immigrants – from the USA and Canada, to Australia and New Zealand.
But I am no open border fanatic and I firmly believe the sort of uncontrolled mass immigration which has been promoted by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a disaster for social cohesion and national security – as most of Europe is now beginning to realise.
Immigration is a good thing – but only if it is strictly controlled. In contrast, Merkel’s reckless free-for-all has unleashed a wave of crime and terror across the continent that will blight Europe for decades. All the more reason for us to leave the EU and take back control our own borders as soon as possible.