UK political commentators were surprised that there was no mention of a new immigration bill in the Queen's Speech on 4th June. Prime Minister David Cameron was rumoured to be preparing a new bill only two weeks earlier but, when the queen made her speech, there was no mention of the bill.
Westminster insiders said that internal government wrangling had seen the bill removed at the last minute. The Home Office, the department that is responsible for dealing with immigration into the UK, said that it was busy implementing the UK's last immigration act which was only passed by parliament in May.
The Queen's speech is an annual event at which Queen Elizabeth outlines the legislation her government intends to introduce over the next year. During a day of pomp and ceremony at Westminster, the Queen is required to read the speech to the assembled members of the UK parliament.
Immigration bill predictedIn the days before the speech was announced, political commentators were predicting that an immigration bill would be one of the bills scheduled for parliamentary consideration before the next election in May 2015.
On May 24th, The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper with strong links to the Conservative Party, predicted that an immigration bill would be in the Queen's speech. According to The Telegraph, the bill would have contained measures to 'block Europeans from poor countries coming to Britain for work'. It would also have introduced measures to discourage UK companies from employing illegal workers.
However, when the text of the speech was released, there was no mention of the immigration bill. Westminster commentators said that this was because the Liberal Democrats, members of a coalition government with Mr Cameron's Conservative Party, had vetoed it.
'Staggering'The opposition Labour Party said that it was 'staggering' that there was no mention of immigration in the speech. Labour MPs interviewed by the media had clearly been instructed to describe the Coalition government as a 'zombie' government which was dead but still walking until the next election in 2015.
They said that the eleven bills outlined in the speech showed that the government has all but ground to a halt. It is the lowest number of bills laid out in a Queen's speech for many years. The average since 1994 has been about 20 and in 2006 there were 45 bills outlined in the speech.
It is believed that Mr Cameron was keen to include an immigration bill which would have limited the right of EU citizens to reside and to claim benefits in the UK to counter the electoral threat to the Conservatives posed by the right-wing anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP).
UKIP 'earthquake'UKIP caused a political 'earthquake' in the UK on 22nd May 2014 by winning the greatest number of seats in the UK for the European parliament. UKIP campaigns for the UK to leave the European Union. It says that this would have many benefits for the UK chief among which would be the ability to 'take control of our borders' again.
The UK is a member state of the EU and, therefore, EU citizens from other states have the right to live and work in the UK. This, UKIP says, is resulting in unemployment amongst UK nationals as they are undercut by workers from eastern Europe who are prepared to work for much less. This message has had considerable appeal, particularly among working class voters.
But the BBC reported that the Liberal Democrats had vetoed the bill.
Little UK can do to limit EU immigrationSanwar Ali of workpermit.com said 'It may be that the Liberal Democrats vetoed the new immigration bill but, in all honesty, it is difficult to see quite what Mr Cameron could have done to limit immigration from the EU any further.
'He has already introduced measures which limit the right of EU citizens to benefits. He cannot prevent EU workers from coming to work in the UK because 'the free movement of labour' is one of the core principles of the EU.
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