have tories lost control, migration is just one more broken promise annoying essex towns
Since the 2016 Brexit referendum when more than half of survey respondents thought immigration was one of the most pressing issues facing the UK, attitudes have noticeably softened across the country. Just 15% of people recently surveyed by Ipsos felt the same.
That trend is well reflected in Thurrock, one of the UK’s top Brexit-supporting districts. Locals in the area provided a subtle reaction to Thursday’s news that net migration to the country reached record levels last year, despite repeated promises from the Conservatives to bring it down.
“I am not against migration … It’s the amount of it – it’s only a little country,” said Bernie Parsons, who voted for both Brexit in 2016 and the Tories in 2019.
People in the area have started getting annoyed with the ruling party for not being able to deliver on many of its pledges, including on migration – and disappointed with the whole Brexit idea because it hasn’t made the country more prosperous as expected.
A number of Brits have raised concerns over the rate at which the cost of living was rising and services declining. “There’s not enough doctors, schools,” said Parsons, asking “Who’s going to build the homes?”
But his thoughts on legal migration were in line with what the post-Brexit measures were imposed to do: get the free movement of people from Europe replaced with a system that prefers skilled migrants wherever they come from. The UK needs professional people, Parsons said.
Back in 2016, one of the factors that made Thurrock one of the UK’s top leave-voting districts was undoubtedly a promise from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other rightwing politicians that Brexit would help Britain retrieve “control of our borders”.
53-year-old Peter was among those who backed Brexit as well as the Tories because of that pledge. But he will never vote Conservative again, he stressed. But record migration was one of several broken promises annoying him.
Peter further raised concerns over the state of the NHS and the continuous flow of migrants into the area. “They take people from London and chuck them here.” But he did not think the Labour Party, or the main opposition in the upcoming elections, would do much better.
But some younger voters in the area were optimistic about migration levels. Raqeeb Udin, 35, said the UK needed more people of working age. He called the debate on rising levels of migration “a distraction from the bigger issues”.