Are Conservatives in the UK immigration hypocrites? An article in The Guardian criticized Prime Minister Borris Johnson’s decision to give millions of Hong Kongers a pathway to citizenship. They claim that the move conflicts with the administration’s former support of Brexit, a xenophobic and closed-minded opposition to immigration. The author writes, “Boris Johnson’s promise to give millions of Hong Kong citizens a path to UK citizenship is a remarkable offer from a government that has spent four years wrestling with Brexit so as to end the free movement of people from Europe.” This comparison is patently false.
The British didn’t choose unfettered migration from Europe. The European Union imposed it on them. As such, they couldn’t change this top-down bureaucracy and its policy through representative democracy. With Hong Kong, the Johnson administration and Conservative Party were democratically elected. If the people are opposed to the decision to take in Hong Kongers, they have an avenue to change the policy through elections.
A deeper issue, it appears as though The Guardian didn’t bother to understand the pro-side of the Brexit debate. Much of the opposition to EU membership stemmed not from ethnocentrism, but rather from a belief in representative government. People were fed up with unelected bureaucrats deciding England’s immigration policy, not necessarily with immigration itself.
This decision to accept Hong Kongers is not only politically consistent but also proves to benefit the UK culturally and economically. As Bruno Macaes writes in The Spectator, “The logic of Brexit was that Britain sees its opportunities globally – and here, in Hong Kong, is an opportunity to strengthen Britain and shape a new world balanced between East and West.”
Hong Kong has been a bastion of freedom and entrepreneurship. Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index ranked Hong Kong the second freest economy in the world. Accordingly, the entrepreneurial spirit is strong there; one in four people in Hong Kong had plans to start a business according to a 2016 study. Many of the people of Hong Kong value freedom as well, as evident by the backlash against Beijing’s crackdown. The UK has a lot to benefit from accepting Hong Kongers who wish to become part of UK society.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.