Theme: Political Economy | Content Type: Journal article

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Immigration and the Brexit Catastrophe: Empire, Citizenship and Ignorance

Randall Hansen


Imperial War Museum

| 1 min read

The article examines British immigration policy in the run-up to and after Brexit. It explains how the Conservatives presided over policies that demonised, demeaned and deported black Britons whilst admitting hundreds of thousands of immigrants they promised to keep out. This happened because of (a) how early postwar nationality policy interacted with subsequent immigration policy and (b) elite ignorance. The ensuing Windrush scandal resulted from the interaction of the British Nationality Act 1948 with Home Secretary Theresa May's hostile environment policy. Meanwhile, since Brexit, net immigration figures have doubled. This is because Conservative Home Secretary Priti Patel ended the free movement of EU citizens and authored a new immigration policy that utterly failed to consider the British economy's dependence on low-skilled labour. The outcomes reflect profoundly on the British economy, on the history of nationality law, and on immigration policy.

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    Randall Hansen

    Randall Hansen is the Canada Research Chair in Global Migration and Director of the Global Migration Lab at the University of Toronto.

    Articles by Randall Hansen