For a show with the word “question” in the title, BBC Question Time sure does feature a lot of monologues with nary a query in sight.
Like the corker they aired from last night’s broadcast, which featured an angry white woman with a speak-to-the-manager hair special, ranting to the panel about the effect of immigration on the UK.
We should close the borders… completely.
It’s enough! We are sinking! Enough is enough.
Perhaps she wouldn’t have been so furious if she knew that every claim she went on to make in regards to immigration was patently false.
Luckily, we’ve decided to do the hard googling for her and put her assertions to the test. Hope it doesn’t make her look racist or ignorant! That would be a real shame...
1. 68 million people live in England and it’s going up
Immediately hit a speed bump here; actually the population of England is estimated to be nearly 56 million. The entire UK population is about 66 million – but that includes three extra countries. And still isn’t 68 million.
As for her claim that it’s “going up”, technically she’s right – but growth slowed in 2019 to the slowest increase (of 0.6 per cent) since 2004. The implication is obviously that migration is causing a massive population boost. In fact, non-EU migration has increased (it’s estimated to be 261,000 per year, which is the highest since 2004) but people moving to the UK from the EU has fallen by 58,000 a year. Plus, more EU citizens are moving away from the UK (I wonder why?) – now around 145,000 people are jumping ship.
2. There’s no education or schooling infrastructure
The Question Time audience member wants to blame migration for pressure on schools – she might want to look closer to home. Despite Conservative promises, school funding continues to be slashed. One in five schools in 2020 will be worse off than they were in 2015, thanks to funding cuts. There’s a shortfall of £2.5bn in school funding that will remain, despite pledges to scale up money for schools – this is the result of years of cuts since 2009.
As for migration’s impact on education, apparently the biggest impact on demand for school places is how many children are born each year. Children born outside England only make up 7 per cent of pupils in primary schools, and 10 per cent in state secondary schools. Our own prime minister was born in the US.
3. People are “flooding” into this country that cannot speak English
As previously outlined, there’s no great “flood” of migrants coming into the country. It’s not even a trickle. As for her claims about migrants being unable to speak English, in 2018, Sajid Javid said that the government estimated around 770,000 people in England were unable to speak the national language. These figures were taken from data collected by the 2011 census – conducted nine years ago. The non-English speakers are disproportionately older individuals; 59 per cent of non-English speakers arrived here after the age of 50.
Meanwhile, one in three people across the globe study English as a non-native language. And people from Poland, the country with the highest rates of migration to the UK, have a 62 per cent rate of proficiency in English.
4. Everything in the NHS is written in different languages
Less data on this one but, ma’am, are the signs still written in English too? Yes? Then what’s your beef? Hospitals across the world often put signs etc in multiple languages because they recognise that people move and travel and when you’re sick and scared, sometimes translation isn’t at the top of your priority list.
As for the cost of in-person translators, there’s not an official stat. But there is an incorrect claim of “£100m”, which was wrongly quoted in some tabloids in 2017 and then repeated across social media. But these people aren’t always in the hospitals; individual NHS organisations commission their own translation services and usually phone someone in when they’re needed.
5. Migrants arrive on a plane and have “free service”
This garbled claim seems to refer to the QT audience member’s belief that people who move to UK do so for “health tourism”. Very quick and simple rejoinder to this: “health tourism” i.e. people coming to the UK just to take advantage of the NHS, costs 0.3 per cent of NHS spending. You also don’t automatically qualify for free treatment as a non-UK citizen; excluding A&E services and walk-in centres, you can still be charged a fee for hospital services linked to hospitals.
6. You wouldn’t turn up in America and be allowed to go for free
Sweetie, not even Americans turn up in American and are allowed to go in for free. But go ahead, scrap our free healthcare and enjoy paying £1,500 for an ambulance ride to own the libs!