Dr Helen de Cruz on why Priti Patel and the Brexiters wants to end Freedom of Movement for EU citizens, and what it means for the Brits’ fundamental right to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe.


First published in October 2019.


“This daughter of immigrants, needs no lectures from the North London metropolitan liberal elite.”
— Priti Patel, 1 October 2019.

You might wonder why Priti Patel was so oddly specific, referring to the “North London liberal elite” in her speech to the Conservative Conference. Why the North? you might ask. Well, it’s an antisemitic dog-whistle, because North London has significant Jewish populations, including in Hampstead and Samford Hill.

Diagnostic of the identification of Jews with the liberal elites, the so-called rootless cosmopolitans, as I argued in this piece in PMP Magazine:

The anti-Semitic origins of “citizens of nowhere”.
On the anti-Semitic origins of the “Citizens of nowhere” trope. An alarming discourse.

Patel, much like her predecessors in Russia and the Weimar Republic, is creating an us vs them false dichotomy between the rooted, authentic us and the rootless cosmopolitan, remote them.

It is a chilling anti-semitic rhetoric to be used in conjunction with the promise to end Freedom of Movement once and for all.

Now, let’s see if her argument holds up to scrutiny.

Freedom of Movement is for the (dog-whistle: Jewish, wealthy, etc) elites. Whereas the points-based immigration system she touts is not for the elites, but is that true?

Let’s examine the UK immigration rules in force right now... Complex visa rules mean that the brightest and the best the UK says are welcome and are certainly needed, such as medical doctors, need to be wealthy too.

Take this case of a young Taiwanese doctor, who has to leave the UK after 13 years. The reason is not that the UK has too many medical doctors. The reason is that Mu-Chun Chiang had, for a few days, less than £945 in her bank account. Never mind her expertise. It is all about money. How is this system not elitist?

Mu-Chun Chiang and the letter she received telling her she must leave the UK now.

Take also the current UK policies on family reunion, which again are all about money. Are you a Brit who wants to live with your non-EU spouse? Well, you better make enough money (at least GBP 18,600/year). And it doesn’t matter how much your spouse makes. If you don’t make enough money, tough luck. Your spouse can see her children grow up on Skype.

Family visas: apply, extend or switch
Get a family visa for the UK, live with your spouse or relative - eligibility, proof, renewing, financial and English language requirements

Google ‘Skype families’ if you can stomach it, and read the heart-wrenching accounts of children who are devastated to grow up without Mum or Dad. How is this not-elitist?

If you are wealthy, you can get the fast-track to UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) via the investor visa. Ordinary doctors and teachers need to wait many years and can be rejected on a technicality, investor visa = ILR as soon as in 2 years. Kaching!

Investor visa (Tier 1)
Apply for an Investor visa (Tier 1) if you want to invest £2,000,000 or more in the UK - eligibility, fees, extend or switch, bring your family

Freedom of Movement is the opposite of elitism. It is not for the elites alone, it is for everyone – doctor, teacher, baker, plumber, artist, etc.

Lack of Freedom of Movement, now that is immigration for the elites. So, why the association of Freedom of Movement with elites?

Well, it only makes sense if you see immigrants as such radically other people than Brits that they just don’t have the same hopes, concerns, lives, etc. But even then, ending Freedom of Movement will end the hopes of many Brits to live and study abroad because – and it is often omitted in the mediait is a reciprocal right.

And once Brits are deprived of that right, emigrating to the rest of Europe will be only for those who are educated and who have in-demand diplomas, or for the very wealthy.🔷



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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 2 October 2019, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Gif of Priti Patel at the 2019 Conservative Conference.)



     

THE AUTHOR

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Belgian philosopher and Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University who specialises in philosophy of religion, experimental philosophy, and philosophy of cognitive science.