‘Invasion’ is not an unfair description of the situation we are facing | Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column

‘An occasion when a large number of people come to a place in an unwanted way’ is the definition of the word invasion.
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And so, although the Home Secretary has been subjected to media attacks for using that phrase this week, it is not an unfair description of the situation we are facing.

My issue with the use of the word is that it caused the debate that followed to be about whether that was an acceptable thing to say – not how we go about addressing the problem. And for as long as the media and the Labour Party want to focus on words not actions, they will always be on the wrong side of this issue.

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So far this year we have seen almost 40,000 illegal crossings in the English Channel. And these are not all women and children fleeing persecution. But rather 12,000 of them are Albanian adult males who can only be described as economic migrants flouting our immigration rules by paying people smugglers to enter illegally.

Burnley MP Antony HigginbothamBurnley MP Antony Higginbotham
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

Now, I don’t blame Albania. They are willing to negotiate a returns agreement with us like that which is in place for Germany and Sweden, meaning that when an Albanian enters illegally, they are automatically deported. Those countries will simply not accept any asylum claim from an Albanian national because it is a safe, European nation. We need to get on with doing that too.

I know that in our borough we are compassionate, and we want to help others in any way they can. That’s what has seen us open our homes to Ukrainians, offer shelter, and donate goods and money to those less fortunate.

But most of us, myself included, also expect to see controlled borders. It’s why I voted to bring in a points-based immigration system and why I’ve been raising this issue with the Government continually since I was first elected.

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This is an issue I won’t back down on. I’ll be pushing the Government to go further and faster than ever before – taking on the pressure groups, lawyers, and opposition parties – to put in place the firm but fair immigration system that I and residents expect.

This week is also International Trade Week and I’m encouraging all our local businesses to look at the opportunities available globally. That’s how we grow our local economy and create more jobs. Any business that needs advice on this can contact me and I’ll do all I can to help.