The sister of Boris Johnson has expressed "shock" at Theresa May's controversial Tory conference speech, joking that its sentiment was akin to that of the National Front. Earlier, the Home Secretary was lambasted for peddling “irresponsible rhetoric” after she used her address to warn that immigration threatens Britain’s “cohesive society.”
Speaking on LBC on Tuesday evening, Rachel Johnson said she was "depressed" by the speech "because she [May] essentially quoted some learned institution and then unnamed many academics and said that for the last 10 years net migration has not benefited the UK in any way."
"I just thought what would you feel if you'd come to the UK to make a new life here, put your back into a job and and she told you and she tells Britain that immigrants in Britain have done nothing?" Johnson told the broadcaster. "I was slightly depressed by that and then an MP saw me and he said 'don't worry Rachel Tuesday of conference, it's always National Front day'."
"I know that sometimes you have to throw out the gobbets of red meat," she said. "She must have judged this is what the rank and file wanted to hear. It's not what I wanted to hear."
May told the audience in Manchester that it was “understandable" that people wanted to come to Britain for a better life, but add that Britain must have an immigration system "that allows us to control who comes to our country".
The comments were rounded upon by the Institute of Directors, with the IoD's Director General Simon Walker accusing the Home Secretary of "pandering to anti-immigration sentiment." He said: “We are astonished by the irresponsible rhetoric and pandering to anti-immigration sentiment from the Home Secretary."
“It is yet another example of the Home Secretary turning away the world’s best and brightest, putting internal party politics ahead of the country, and helping our competitor economies instead of our own," he added. "The myth of the job-stealing-immigrant is nonsense. Immigrants do not steal jobs, they help fill vital skill shortages and, in doing so, create demand and more jobs. If they did steal jobs, we wouldn’t have the record levels of employment we currently do.
It is about time the Home Office stopped undermining business and our own government’s efforts to secure productivity growth," Walker said. "Political leaders should stop vilifying migrants and acknowledge the hugely important contribution they make to this country’s economy.”
Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, lambasted May's assertion, saying what was more damaging to society was “whipping up fear and mistrust". He said that the Prime Minister and Home Secretary were promoting “division and hatred" by blaming external forces for Britain's problems.
May said: “There are millions of people in poorer countries who would love to live in Britain, and there is a limit to the amount of immigration any country can and should take. While we must fulfil our moral duty to help people in desperate need, we must also have an immigration system that allows us to control who comes to our country."
Refugees arrive at a camp at the German/Austrian border
May added: “Because when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it's impossible to build a cohesive society. It's difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope. And we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether. But even if we could manage all the consequences of mass immigration, Britain does not need net migration in the hundreds of thousands every year."
The Home Secretary's comments proved unpopular across the social networks, with many posters branding her speech "racist."
Refugee Council chief executive, Maurice Wren, said: “The Home Secretary’s clear intention to close Britain’s border to refugees fleeing for their lives is thoroughly chilling, as is her bitter attack on the fundamental principle enshrined in international law that people fleeing persecution should be able to claim asylum in Britain.
“The Home Secretary’s idea that the few refugees who reach Britain’s shores under their own steam are not in need of protection is fundamentally flawed. Becoming a refugee is not solely the privilege of the poor or infirm. Everyone would like to see the number of asylum claims in Britain go down: but only because that would mean the world had become a safer, more peaceful place. As it stands, the Home Secretary’s ambitions are simply out of step with reality: the world is facing one of the worst refugee crises we’ve ever seen."
She added: “The global system of refugee protection is based on the principle that everyone has the right to claim asylum and to have that claim examined properly. Instead of seeking to close the door on refugees reaching Britain by creating the idea they are somehow unworthy of our help, the Home Secretary should focus her efforts on reforming Britain’s asylum system so it treats people with the dignity and respect they so desperately need.”
May is also announced that the government will stop European Union nationals from making claims in Britain, and attacked the “open-borders liberal left".
Responding to the Home Secretary's comments, Farron said: "David Cameron and Theresa May are encouraging division and hatred, encouraging a society that blames all its problems on those on the outside. We must end this Conservative obsession with denigrating immigrants, which pitches community against community. Britain is socially, culturally and economically richer for our outward looking, tolerant approach. We unashamedly welcome the contribution immigrants make to our country."
On Europe, Farron said: “It’s quite clear that David Cameron’s hokey-kokey isn’t convincing his party, it’s not convincing the county and it’s definitely not convincing his European counterparts. It’s time David Cameron came clean on his end game. Flirting with exit will not inspire the British people. We are a modern, free, prosperous country, respected the world over. This is Britain’s time to lead, not leave."