During yesterday’s Brexit debate in Parliament, Gloucester’s Conservative MP Richard Graham spoke in favour of deporting EU citizens living in Gloucester.
Other MPs audibly gasped as he spoke:
“The hon. Gentleman said that bringing to an end free movement would be very damaging. What would he say to my constituent, a young Gloucester girl, eight months’ pregnant and badly beaten up by her European boyfriend, who is terrified that when he comes out of prison he will return to haunt her and her family, because this country cannot deport European nationals unless they have served a sentence of longer than two years? Does he agree that there are some elements where actually it would be protective, not damaging?”
In fact, EU citizens can already be deported for reasons of “public policy, public security or public health” – violent criminals can already be deported even under existing EU freedom of movement rules.
But Richard seems unaware of these rules.
The situation he mentioned is an obviously distressing case of domestic violence, and Richard Graham should know better than to exploit it by jumping on an anti-immigrant bandwagon to score political points. His remarks will make all our EU residents in Gloucester feel less welcome.
It’s not the first time even this year that our Tory MP has come under fire for anti-immigrant sentiment.
In August this year, he was roundly criticised for pointing the finger at “immigrants” for Gloucester’s problems with litter and recycling.
And in October, he spoke in Parliament about “foreigners” using food banks.
To keep on making these unfair comments about immigrants and foreigners as if they are the root of all evil smacks of the kind of dog-whistle racism that makes for more division and intolerance. It is appalling and very worrying, at a time when this country should be coming together.
When Richard Graham claimed that high numbers of “foreigners” use food banks, evidence from food bank charity Trussell Trust proved him wrong.
And here, too, the evidence is against him. In fact, studies all show higher rates of immigration actually reduce crime rates. Gloucester certainly doesn’t have a problem with EU residents causing more crime than British-born residents.
It’s time that Gloucester’s MP stopped making Gloucester a hostile environment for our overseas-born residents and recognised instead the very valuable contribution they make to this city.
Let’s work together to get Richard out of Gloucester altogether.