June 2024 – Oliver Westmoreland discusses the prospect of a change of Government in the UK July 2024 General Election and the possible impact on immigration policy.

In case you did not know, the UK is in the grip General Election Fever. On 4 July not only will the English-speaking world be experiencing an absolute frenzy of excitement about American independence but there will be the additional absolute frenzy of excitement about the British General Election. It will be surely almost too much to bear.

But a few sober minds, sitting astride the maelstrom, must ask themselves a crucial question: in the highly likely event of a Labour victory in the General Election (given current polling), what will happen to UK immigration policy?

It is difficult to say exactly but Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, is already talking tough, well tough-ish at any rate, about tackling illegal migration and reducing net migration generally. Sounds familiar perhaps?

More specifically, you may recall that the current Government earlier this year sharply increased the minimum required earnings for sponsors for partner visas to £29,000 per year and undertook to even more sharply increase it to £38,700 in 2025, which seems a bit much. But under a Labour Government this may not happen.

The Labour Party definitely does not like the Safety of Rwanda Act and the associated UK/Rwanda Treaty (which created some novel ways of dealing with asylum-seekers) and we can assume that these instruments are dead in the water, despite the thousands of hours of government and parliamentary work that has gone into it. Oh well, at least it gave them something to do and kept them off the streets.

But some other, connected, matters are a bit more complicated. The (rather controversial) Illegal Migration Act 2023 – which also attempts to deal with asylum-seekers – received Royal Assent some time last year but not all of it has yet been brought into force. The way that it works in cases such as this is that an Act receives Royal Assent and some parts of it immediately come into effect but other parts do not come into effect until they are brought into effect by subsequent legal instruments. Quite possibly these remaining parts may never be brought into force and indeed a new Government might just repeal the whole Act and make a new one.

Well, we will just have to wait and see what happens. The only thing we would say is that a new Labour Government will not want to be seen as “soft on immigration”, which is potentially always something of an Achilles’ heel for Labour.