By Inês Linhares Dias

The immigration issue has gained prominence with the Brexit campaign and as this General Election is all about Brexit, naturally each party’s take on immigration will have a big impact on people’s votes.

As Britain prepares to leave the EU in the next two years, matters such as the rights of the European citizens that lie in the UK or freedom of movement between EU countries and Britain will certainly need to be addressed. But the immigration issues are not restricted to the terms on which the new relation between Britain and Europe will unfold. With a major refugee crisis and terrorism striking Britain twice during the electoral campaign, some people may worry about the income of people and what it might mean to the country’s security.

Calls for tightening border control were fed by false claims that migrants claimed more benefits than the British people and that they were taking natives jobs. These claims have been proven wrong by several studies, yet these arguments resonate with people that have seen their life conditions deteriorate whilst immigration numbers rose.

This narrative, pushed mainly by Ukip, hasn’t been contradicted enough by political parties and politicians during the Brexit campaign. The real discussion about this issue is finally happening, with Jeremy Corbyn bringing the facts on migration to the discussion and pointing out the importance of EU workers to public services such as the NHS, where there is a “skill shortage” that is supressed with skilled migrants.

Still, there are a lot of misconceptions on the voters’ minds, on an issue that has revealed to be of high importance to this election. It is, therefore, worth to take a look on what each party is proposing.

What each party’s manifesto says on immigration.

Conservatives:

  • Cut annual net migration to a “sustainable” level in the tens of thousands.
  • Control immigration from the EU.
  • Toughen up requirements for student visas, include students in immigration quotas and expect them to leave the country when studies are finished.
  • Independent consultation to better align the visa system with Britain’s modern industrial strategy.
  • Double the Immigration Skills Charge on companies employing migrant worker.

Labour:

Labour’s main premise on immigration is to implement “fair rules and reasonable management of migration”. The party doesn’t commit to reduce the numbers of migrants coming in to the country.

  • End freedom of movement between the UK and the EU.
  • Implementation of a Migrant Impact Fund in hosting areas to support public services.
  • Remove students from immigration numbers.
  • Recruit border guards.
  • End income thresholds for spouses of migrants who want to enter the country.

Liberal Democrats:

The Liberal Democrats also show an open approach to migration. As the only big party questioning if Brexit should go ahead on any terms, the Lib Dems main pledge on migration issues is securing freedom of movement between the European Union and Britain.

  • Maintain freedom of movement between the EU and Britain.
  • Allow high-skilled immigration to back key sectors of the economy.
  • Remove students from immigration numbers.
  • Welcome 50.000 Syrian refugees over a five-year period and re-implement the “Dubs” child refugee scheme.

UK Independence Party:

UKIP campaigned for Brexit with a discourse that was mainly based on immigration. As such, it comes as no surprise that its manifesto shows the toughest stance on this issue out of all the parties running for tonight’s election.

  • End freedom of movement between the EU and Britain.
  • Introduce a “one in, one out” system to cut net migration to zero in five years.
  • Place a moratorium on unskilled and low-skilled workers for five years after Brexit.
  • No amnesty for illegal immigrants.
  • Five-year tax requirement for new migrants to be eligible for benefits and non-urgent NHS services.
  • Introduction of a “social attitudes” test that would prevent the entrance of people that see women or gay people as “second-class citizens”.

Green Party:

The Greens manifesto shows an open approach in two key ways:

  • Maintain freedom of movement between the EU and Britain.
  • Implement a “humane immigration and asylum system.

The Green Party Women’s manifesto shows the party’s vision for a more “humane immigration and asylum system”. It includes measures like:

  • Protect the most vulnerable.
  • Fund integrated support.
  • End deportation of at-risk asylum seekers
  • End immigration detention.

Scottish National Party:

Brexit is a main issue for the SNP, as an overwhelming majority of Scots voted Remain. As such, the main pledges of the SNP’s manifesto regarding immigration include securing EU citizens’ rights:

  • Guarantee EU citizens’ rights to remain in the UK.
  • Devolve immigration powers to Scotland to control immigration figures and attract EU citizens.
  • Reinstate post-study work visa so that after graduation students can stay in Scotland.
  • Re-implement the “Dubs” child refugee scheme.

 

Adrian Leibowitz

When Theresa May announced this snap general election on April 18, she wanted a Brexit election, one that was going to consolidate and increase her Commons majority ahead of negotiations with the EU.

At that point the smart money was on May achieving her aim of trouncing Labour, sweeping the board and establishing an unassailable Conservative majority.

Not only was this going to be an absolute rout for Labour but their campaign got off to a bad start when Dianne Abbot, shadow Home Secretary, fluffed her figures live on LBC early in May.

About a week later Labour’s manifesto was leaked to the press. This was the most radical manifesto since the 1974 election, promising spending on public services and the renationalization of the railways, water and electricity.

The leaking of this document was designed to put Corbyn and Labour on the back foot and be the final nail in the coffin of their campaign.

In my estimation this was when Labour’s campaign really got going. This generated a great deal of discussion about the manifesto, probably much more so than had there simply been a conventional launch.

Then there is the issue of the debates. We heard it here on Beds TV, when the associate editor of the Daily Mail, Andrew Pearce told one of our student reporters that ‘delivery and presentation’ is not Theresa May’s strong point. And so it has proven to be the case.

And this has damaged her during this campaign and although Corbyn is not trusted or liked in the country his plain speaking, quiet but straightforward delivery has won him plaudits over the past few weeks. He even faced Jeremy Paxman, scourge of many a politician and survived pretty unscathed.

There have been tough moments on the campaign – like for instance when Corbyn was being grilled about why he wouldn’t press the nuclear button, and was rescued by a young member of the audience who wondered why everyone was so keen on, as she said, “murdering millions of people” which succinctly put the point just at the right time for Corbyn, and got a round of applause.

The terrorist attacks have also tested the Labour campaign. It is usual in the political cut and thrust for the Conservatives to play on their image of being tough on law and order and Labour traditionally being seen as weak in this area.

However, the Conservative cuts in Police numbers over the past seven years has seen Theresa May defensive on this issue.

‘For the Many, not the Few’ has been the official Labour slogan. Its unofficial refrain has been ‘Make June the end of May’.  Despite the turn around in the fortunes of Labour during this campaign its unlikely that this will happen.

However, this election campaign has given Corbyn an opportunity to demonstrate his leadership skills in a way that hadn’t been obvious before and even if he loses he has absolutely earned the right to lead Labour after this general election.

Theresa May is probably wishing she could say the same about her own prospects, even if she wins tonight.

By Adrian Leibowitz

Amber Rudd, who stood in for Theresa May in the television debate, has scraped back in Hastings after a recount.

She had a 5000 majority but there could be a near 10% swing to Labour, which would be significant.

Exit polls predict that the Tories will drop 17 seats, leaving the party short of an overall majority.

Twitter has exploded with the prospect that the Tory politician could be one of those in danger of being ousted.

Ms Rudd was sent to represent the party in the leaders’ debate, so if she failed to hold her seat it would be a ‘Portillo moment’ similar to when the man tipped as a possible Tory leader lost his seat in 1997.

The BBCs Ross Hawkins says that Rudd’s agent says it’s too close to call.

By Inês Linhares Dias.

Tonight’s vote will shape how Britain approaches the Brexit negotiations.

Although frequently overshadowed in this election, Brexit is the single most important issue facing Britain today. So what did each of the parties pledge on Brexit?

Theresa May has said that she is committed to guide the country out of the EU and to get the right deal, even though she seems to be oblivious to the fact that the deal has to be approved by all 27 member states and it will never be a good deal to Britain.

Prime minister, Theresa May, has said that: “First our country needs strong proven leadership to steer us through this time of economic and political uncertainty and negotiate the best deal for Britain as we leave the EU and forge a new role for ourselves in the world. Because Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it”.

But the European Union needs to make an example out of this process and, therefore, there is no possible way that the final deal will be beneficial for Britain, as that would set a precedent for other countries, who are not entirely happy with the Union to leave.

Labour also guarantees that under its government Britain would leave the EU, however the guidelines for how it would conduct the process are equally vague.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn explained his vision for the Brexit talks: “Labour will start negotiations by setting a new tone. We will confirm to the other nations that Britain is leaving the European Union. That issue is not in doubt. But instead of posturing in pumped up animosity, a Labour government under my leadership will set out a plan for Brexit based on the mutual interests of both Britain and the European Union”.

Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, has already made clear that the party will not back any deal that leaves Britain in worse economic terms than if it had remained in the EU.

Starmer is holding Brexit secretary David Davis’ accountable for a statement he made in parliament in January saying that the deal agreed between May and the 27 member states would guarantee the “exact same benefits” as the UK enjoys being a part of the single market.

The only party which is actually offering an alternative on the Brexit issue is the Liberal Democrats- Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is promising a referendum on the Brexit deal: “At the heart of our manifesto is an offer to all of the people in our country that know what the party is making, and that is that we don’t just have to accept whatever deal we get back from the Brexit negotiations, but the British people – you – should have the final say. And if you don’t like what Theresa May comes back with, you should have the right to vote to remain.”

The irony is that probably the election which will most affect the Brexit negotiations isn’t the one that has just taken place in the UK – but the German elections in the autumn. It is only then that the real tough talking will begin.

The Lib Dems strategy of appealing to the remainers is not paying off, since, according to YouGov polls, 68% of the electorate believes that Britain should leave the European Union. Besides the 52% that voted Leave on the referendum, there is now a group of people that has been dubbed re-leavers that consists of people who voted remain, but feel that the result of the referendum should be respected and, as such, Brexit should go ahead. For these people, the solution is often a vote for Labour, since Corbyn has pledged to lead the country out of the EU, whilst keeping the UK in the single market and customs union, and securing the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.

Although there is still great uncertainty regarding this issue, and the guidelines for how Brexit talks should be conducted are still very vague, it is important to look at what each party specifically claims to do on the Brexit issue.

Conservative:

  • Leave the single market and customs union, but maintaining a “deep and special partnership” with the European Union.
  • Guaranteeing a “smooth and orderly Brexit” though upholding “no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK”-
  • Establishing a “fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations”
  • Approve a Great Repeal Bill to transform EU law into UK law

Labour:

  • Re-determine the negotiating priorities established in the Brexit white paper, prioritizing “the single market and customs union”.
  • Guarantee rights of EU citizens living in Britain.
  • Replace the “Great Repeal Bill” with an EU rights and protections bill that will ensure no change to worker’s rights or environmental protections.
  • Dismiss the “no deal” option

Liberal Democrats:

  • Hold a referendum on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.
  • Guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
  • Remain in the single market and customs union.
  • Maintain freedom of movement.

By Inês Linhares Dias

Over the past three months, Britain has fallen victim to three terrorist attacks, the last two of which came right before the general elections and might influence the results.

In the aftermath of the last of these attacks Theresa May has said that “enough is enough” and has enumerated the four ways in which counter-terrorism action will have to unveil from now on.

The prime minister’s suggestions to tackle the threat include fighting extremist ideologies through the preservation of British values; working alongside other ally nations to regulate the cyberspace; tackling extremism in British society; and reviewing Britain’s current counter-terrorism strategies.

There have been, however, several criticisms regarding both May’s capitalizing on these events, as both Corbyn and Farron have accused her of breaking election rules with the “enough is enough” statement, and her action as Home Secretary and, later on, as prime-minister.

Among those who have voiced concerns are Labour’s leader, but also members of the police that say the cuts on policing that were imposed during May’s mandate as Home Secretary threaten the authorities’ ability to protect the public.

Talking to Sky News, ex-London MET Police Officer Peter Kirkham said that the government is lying about the number of armed police officers on the street and explained that: “We are here talking about extra police officers on the street…

They’re not extra. They are officers that have had their rare leave days cancelled, they’ve had their twelve-hour shifts that have now been routinely extended to sixteen hours, they are being drawn from other areas (…) they are not extra police officers at all. They’re from other duties and they are being burned down.”

When asked if he would back the call for Theresa May’s resignation on an interview to Sky News, Corbyn replied “indeed I would, because there’s been calls made by a lot of very responsible people on this who are very worried that she was at the Home Office for all this time, presided over these cuts in police numbers and is now saying that we have a problem – yes, we do have a problem, we should never have cut the police numbers.”

He then continued to rectify his answer by saying that the people of Britain should vote for the MPs and a new government would be formed as a result.

But he did accuse the prime minister of attempting to “protect the public on the cheap”.

Corbyn was also under strain when he was questioned during the debate by a member of the audience about his links to the IRA, but his response over the importance of talking to all sides seems to have resonated with the press.

Despite the accusations directed at the prime-minister, several studies suggest that conservative parties tend to perform better than liberal parties in elections following terrorist attacks, even though the co-relation between the incidents and electoral results is not easy to prove. Even so, these studies cannot predict what will happen on the British elections and if the attacks will even have any effect on the results.

But the attacks raised security issues and gave it more prominence that was not being given before. A recent poll shows that terrorism is the second most important issue for Britons, right after healthcare.

And although it is not clear how it may impact the result of the elections, the attacks have already disturbed the campaign, with all parties suspending their campaigning actions after the Manchester attacks. The same measure was adopted after the London attacks, but this time Ukip refused to suspend its actions, a decision Paul Nuttall defended by saying it would be “precisely what the extremists would want us to do”.

Regardless of any potential impact, the elections will go on despite of any attempt to disturb the democratic process.

By Inês Linhares Dias.

Labour took Battersea from the Conservatives – a seat that has consistently elected the winning party since 1987. And soon the Labour leadership was calling for May’s head.

They overturned the majority for Tory Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison.

This was the first major seat that Labour took from the Conservatives.

The Conservative MP held the seat since 2010.

It is also the first bellwether seat Labour has secured in tonight’s vote, after losing Nuneaton to the Tories, that held 51,6% of the votes, against Labour’s 41,3%.

Labour also gained Rutherglen & Hamilton West from the SNP in Scotland, with a slim majority of 265 votes, and his expected to take at least two other seats.

The SNP is predicted to hold a majority, but it is expected to drop from 56 seats to 34.

This is shaping up to be a really bad night for Theresa May.

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “May is  a damaged PM and may never recover”. Jeremy Corbyn re-asserted the need for May to resign

Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is taking a more cautious road, but he has claimed that “whatever the final result, our positive campaign has changed politics for the better”.

By Jake Nichol.

Labour have starting making inroads in to Scotland, suggesting they are growing in strength, as the night winds on.

Labour are quietly confident of securing seats in Glasgow, despite down-playing expectations at the start of polling day.

James Cairney, at the Glasgow East count confirmed that “things weren’t good” at the end of campaigning. Now however Labour claimed the scalps of nearby Rutherglen and Hamilton West from the SNP.

Making inroads in Scotland is absolutely crucial for Labour to have any hope of winning the election, and claiming its first victory north of the border is sure to boost the party’s morale.

Gerard Killen managed to overturn a 9,975 SNP majority in the constituency just south of Glasgow, to win the seat with 19,101 votes which equates to just 265 votes, with 37.5% of the vote.

The Conservatives increased their share of the vote by 12%, but were still lagging nearly by nearly double their 9,941 votes.

By Jake Nichol.

Labour has held on to the first two seats declared in the election seeing off the Tory threat for now, to their northern heartlands.

The first two Constituencies to have declared, Newcastle upon Tyne Central and Houghton and Sunderland South, have been both won by the incumbent Labour candidate.

However, with Theresa May placing traditional Labour heartlands as key to her campaign, what do the numbers tell us about the swing, if any to the Conservatives?

Let’s take a look at Newcastle first, who won the race to be first to declare its result.

In the 2015 election, the Labour candidate, Chi Onwurah won 19,301 votes, which gave her 55.0% of the total number of valid ballots cast, with a majority of 12,673 over the Conservative candidate.

This time around, Onwurah received 24,071 votes and increased her overall majority to 40.3%, up from 36.1% in ’15.

A swing by 2.1% to Labour in Newcastle, which voted Remain in the EU Referendum, however, is offset by the result in neighbouring Houghton and Sunderland South.

Bridget Phillipson was defending a comfortable majority of 12,938 votes, which equates to 33.6% majority.

However, this time, despite still winning by 12,341 votes, Phillipson has seen a near 5% cut in her majority, owing to the Conservatives eating into the UKIP vote.

Paul Howell increased the Tory vote by a staggering 11.2%, while UKIP went down by 15.8%, a swing to the Tories by about 3.8%.

Significantly, if the majority, in terms of percentage are added together, there is a 1.4% swing to the Tories in the North of England. That is probably too low a figure to be overly substantial, but it definitely gives food for thought.