Socialist Party members attend protest against anti-migrant bill. Photo: Helen Pattison
Socialist Party members attend protest against anti-migrant bill. Photo: Helen Pattison

Adam Harmsworth, Coventry Socialist Party

Tory prime minister Rishi Sunak claims he will be forcing migrants to foot part of the bill for the public sector pay rise. He’s told us he hopes to make £1.4 billion out of the £5 billion cost by hiking up the immigration health surcharge and visa fees.

But who actually believes the Tories will hit this immigration target, when they’ve failed so many times before?

The money is there. Profits for the richest 350 companies in the country jumped 73% during the pandemic.

Nevertheless, with Sunak’s latest attack, a migrant on a five-year visa would pay £5,175 up-front on the health surcharge alone. According to one estimate, a family of four hoping to settle in the UK will have to pay at least £33,000.

Tory anti-migrant bill

Meanwhile, the Tory majority in the House of Commons has rejected further changes made to the Illegal Migration Bill. This terrifying bill would demand the government throw people who arrive here through unofficial routes – like small boat crossings – back to their home country, or to Rwanda.

Even a House of Lords amendment to exempt victims of modern-day slavery was too big a concession for most Tories! Victims who are trafficked into the country would be treated like criminals.

And they would be thrown out of the country if they went to the authorities for help. That will encourage modern-day slavery!

Even with all the horrors of this bill, Labour has said it has “no plans” to repeal it.

Additionally, there was a third shameful attack on migrants in a week. Immigration minister Robert Jenrick personally ordered that child-friendly murals of Mickey Mouse and other cartoon characters on the walls of an asylum centre be painted over.

Micky Mouse mural

The ‘I’ newspaper reports that Jenrick said make the place less “welcoming”. And that it was a “law enforcement environment… not a welcome centre”. According to the Telegraph, Jenrick said: “Make it unambiguously clear” to the children “that they have broken the law, and that they can expect to be removed” and “prosecuted”.

These are all open displays of Sunak’s government desperately trying to divide working-class people striking for pay rises. Trying to get a portion of the pay rise funded by migrants, forcing through a dodgy anti-refugee bill, painting over murals – this is a government hoping half-baked ideas and blaming minorities will get it through the next week or month of crisis.

The Socialist Party calls for an immediate end to the attacks on migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Trade unions that fight for their members have the power to unite workers, wherever they’re born.

This is a weak and divided government. Working-class solidarity can prevent a drastic worsening of the lives of all of us.