Theresa May’s government is supposed to decide within the next two months what type of migration policy Britain should adopt after Brexit. So it didn’t go unnoticed that both Michael Gove and Ruth Davidson used the launch of a new Conservative think tank – Onward – on Monday night to argue for a more relaxed and open system. But despite them speaking out, the person causing No 10 the biggest headache on immigration today is the immigration minister.
After Caroline Nokes caused confusion during the Windrush crisis by suggesting in an interview that some migrants may have been accidentally deported, she is back in the line of fire once again. In an appearance before the Northern Ireland affairs select committee, the immigration minister admitted that she had not read all of the Good Friday Agreement – as she was ‘probably giving birth’ when the agreement was first published. In other words, too long; didn’t read.
Her admission was met with astonishment by the committee, with North Down independent MP Lady Hermon asking: ‘Given that you yourself haven’t actually read the agreement, what level of awareness could we expect from other officials in your team?’ Nokes’s reply was that her officials’ awareness would be ‘enormous’ despite her own shortcomings. Perhaps – but given the great challenges this government, and specifically the Home Office, face over Brexit – it hardly instills confidence that a minister has failed to do basic homework.