Dominic Raab – 2016 Speech on Controlled Immigration

The speech made by Dominic Raab, the then Secretary of State for Justice, on 8 June 2016.

There is no European country more global in outlook than Britain.

We trade more beyond this continent than any EU country except Malta.

Britain is a hub for many of the world’s commercial networks.

The one truly global language is English,

And millions of our citizens have family ties beyond Europe, whether with the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand or Africa.

I’m only here today because Britain welcomed my father as a refugee from Czechoslovakia in 1938.

So, I appreciate the advantages of immigration.

I feel the emotional tug of Europe.

And I understand the lessons of history.

But you can feel European and want to leave the anti-competitive and undemocratic EU club.

It’s not about being a Little Englander.

I started my career as an international business lawyer, and I later worked at the Foreign Office.

I spent 3 years posted to The Hague, representing the UK at global institutions like the International Criminal Court and working closely with EU bodies like Eurojust.

I lost count of how many times Australian, Japanese, Brazilian diplomats bitterly lamented the inward, navel-gazing, focus of EU discussions … at the expense of what was going on in the rest of the world.

I also have a wife from Brazil, and two young sons.

My 3 year old already speaks better Portuguese than me.

I want them to have a perspective of the world beyond our shores, and beyond Europe.

And I want Britain to leave the EU so we can be more, not less, of a global nation.

That’s why I am so disappointed with the EU’s lousy record on negotiating free trade deals, from Asia to Latin America.

And, yes, if we want to be a truly global player,

With world-beating economic competitiveness, and broad horizons, immigration will be vital both to a thriving economy and a tolerant, outward-looking, society.

Controlling Immigration

But, common sense says it has to be properly controlled.

So, people come in at a rate that can be absorbed by local communities.

Last year, over a million arrived in Europe from the Middle East, north Africa and beyond.

They swept across the continent.

In the UK, net migration was 333,000 last year.

The government’s pledge is to reduce it to the tens of thousands.

Yet, net migration from the EU was 184,000 alone.

Those numbers are likely to rise as economic migrants flee the mass unemployment the single currency has inflicted on southern Europe.

And they will increase further with Turkey and four low-income Balkan states being lined up for EU membership.

We could just take the view that mass migration is an irresistible force.

That national borders are outdated.

If those campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU embrace that view, they need to be honest with the public about it, including the impact it will have.

It’s no good dismissing concerns based on people’s real life experiences,

Of finding their local schools full,

Of struggling to get a GP appointment, or a home they can afford.

Of having their wages undercut.

And those campaigning to stay in the EU need to be up front about who bears the burden.

Because it is often those on the lowest incomes who feel these pressures the most.

The Bank of England has calculated that, for this group, every 10% increase in migration leads to a 2% fall in wages.

Ultimately, if we don’t take back control, I fear Britain’s traditional openness may be tested as never before.

When I lived in Holland, I saw first-hand the emergence of a nasty strain of anti-immigration politics in the aftermath of the murder of the politician Pym Fortuyn.

People felt mainstream parties ignored their concerns about immigration.

It became an issue of mistrust in the political class, not just immigration policy.

We are seeing it spread across Europe.

I don’t want it here.

So, David Cameron was absolutely right to test the dogmatic consensus in Brussels in favour of the rigid rules on free movement.

They should have listened to him.

But, we got short shrift, no change to allow us to control the volume of immigration.

The dogmatic defenders of the EU’s free movement rules are like the most stubborn opponents of gun control in the United States.

They believe that because something was written into a constitutional document long ago.

It must be sacrosanct,

It can’t be challenged,

Even when it is causing such tensions,

Even when it puts our safety at risk.

Security and Border Checks

Let me turn to security.

Of all the security issues debated in this referendum, there is one absolutely clear-cut dividend from leaving the EU.

That is our ability to regain control of our borders.

Including far stronger powers over who we can deport.

And proper preventative checks at the border.

At the moment, we can’t bar anyone in possession of an EU passport or identity card unless they represent a “genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat” to our security.

There’s two points here.

First we are forced to rely on other EU government’s putting in place proper controls.

And yet we already have a very serious problem with other EU states undermining proper border controls and effective passport checks.

We have to admit EU citizens with residence cards, even though Frontex, the EU’s own external border agency, says these documents are forged on a systematic basis.

The European Court has prevented us requiring persons from the EU to have documents issued by our Government to come to the UK.
EU law even forbids us from automatically refusing entry to people without any travel documents at all.

But this is only the start of the problem.

On your chair is a photocopy of a Cyprus estate agent journal, advertised particularly to Russians as the Russian text shows.

This shows open, flagrant selling of EU passports.

Once people buy these EU passports and with it citizenship of an EU member state, they have the automatic right to come to the UK because of ‘free movement’.

Given this is already happening at scale, imagine how much worse this problem will be after the next wave of EU accessions.

The second point concerns the substantive EU test for denial of entry and deportation.

Even if that high threshold – a genuine, serious, present threat to our security – is met, we have to disclose the reasons to the individual barred, even if that itself could endanger national security.

We can’t just deny entry to someone, because they made an unexplained trip to Syria, or because sketchy intelligence suggests a link to terrorist activity.

We can’t even bar people from coming in, solely because they have a criminal record, even for murder.

Yes, in the past ten years since the Free Movement Directive entered into force, we have refused entry to around 11,000 people coming from the EU.

But that compares with more than 200,000 barred from outside Europe, who can be excluded simply because their presence is deemed not conducive to the public good.

That’s the massive difference in the operational bite of our border powers, as a result of EU law.

Ronald Noble, the former head of Interpol, called the EU open borders policy a “real and present danger” that “abets terrorists”, as shown by the ease with which the Paris and Brussels terrorists moved to and fro across Europe.

We know Mohammed Abrini, accused of involvement in both the Paris and Brussels bombings, visited the UK three times in 2015, despite a criminal record for robbery and other violent offences.

We have a terrorism trial going on at the Old Bailey right now,

Which will shed further light on the links between plotters based in Birmingham and Brussels.

But it’s clear that the EU’s fetters on our power to deny entry and deport are crucial security issues.

Both sides in this referendum recognise this.

That is why the Prime Minister made it a key point in our renegotiation, in his letter to Donald Tusk last November.

But, the EU point blank refused to change the Free Movement Directive, let alone the EU treaties.

In fact, the Council Conclusions re-asserted the current rules.

The best the Commission could offer was to ‘examine the thresholds’ on deportation and denial of entry.

If the Free Movement Directive is revised at some indeterminate, unspecified, point in the future.

That means: no change.

Not even a promise of future change.

We can’t responsibly bet this country’s security on that.

It is now the EU and the Luxembourg Court that present the clear and present danger to our security.

They put their ivory tower dogma of EU free movement ahead of the safety of our citizens.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, says leaving the EU would bring important security gains.

Peter Higgins, former head of immigration at UK ports, describes the passport checks we have in place because we are outside Schengen as ‘pretty minimal’.

And evidence from the EU’s own institutions, Frontex and Europol, shows the rising security risk we face, if we stay in the EU.


When the British people vote to leave the EU and take back control on June 23rd, we will be able to restore control over our immigration policy and our borders.

An Australian-style, points-based regime so we can choose who comes to this country, based on the skills we need, not the passport of the applicant.

That’s better for Britain, and it will remove the arbitrary discrimination against non-Europeans.

Operational law enforcement cooperation with our European partners will continue, because it is in everyone’s interests, and the EU already engages in important operational cooperation, from data-sharing to police cooperation, with non-EU countries, from the US to Australia.

But, critically, we can put in place the proper border controls required to keep Britain safe.

I want make sure immigration is managed in the best interests of our economy and our security.

That’s why I will be voting to leave the EU, to take back control of our borders on 23 June.