In Mr Johnson’s resignation speech after he was hounded from No10 by a series of scandals, he said he was “immensely proud” of his government for “getting Brexit done”. But speaking to Express.co.uk, director of the Bow Group Ben Harris-Quincey argued the PM had in fact failed to achieve even this. Mr Harris-Quincey highlighted the UK’s soaring immigration numbers and higher taxes, the latter of which is often seen as particularly uncharacteristic of a traditional conservative government.
The failure to deliver Brexit distinctly stung for the think-tank boss due to Mr Johnson’s historic majority in Parliament following his landslide 2019 election victory.
Mr Harris-Quincey said: “Brexit voters gave Boris Johnson an 80 seat majority to deliver a patriotic conservative government. He instead continued with mass immigration higher than under Blair.”
While immigration from the EU has seen a substantial fall since Britain left the bloc, the numbers of those moving to the UK from other parts of the world have soared.
Figures released in April by the Home Office revealed there was a 25 percent increase in non-EU migrants in the last year than in 2019, with 239,987 work-related visas granted. Less than a tenth of these came from the EU.
After the end of freedom of movement in January last year, migrants from the bloc now have to obtain a visa – but the new points system has opened opportunities for migrants from across the globe.
The main driver for the soaring statistics is from migrants outside of the EU, with Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London, claiming that Mr Johnson’s more liberal approach to immigration was a primary driver behind the climbing numbers. Under Mr Johnson’s new system the number of professions that qualify for visas expanded significantly.
Most of the increase were made up of Indian, Pakistani, Nigerian and Filipino workers. Indians represented the largest contingent, with 67,839 work visas granted last year – a 14 percent rise from 2019.
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However, the other nationalities saw a much higher increase, with numbers of Nigerian migrants accounting for the sharpest increase, with a 161 percent rise from 3,918 to 10,245 in the two years since the new system.
Home secretary Priti Patel said that “immigration has enriched our nation through the ages and continues to do so”, and added the new system “delivers on a key commitment to the public to take back control of our borders and put in place an immigration system that works in our national interest.”
Mr Harris-Quincey also bemoaned Mr Johnson’s focus on “Net Zero, high taxes, and woke causes.”
He added: “[Mr Johnson] acted too late on the Northern Irish protocol and failed to complete Brexit in spirit or letter, as Northern Ireland remains under EU regulation.”
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Despite promising to only allow a border to be created between Northern Ireland and the UK “over [his] dead body”, Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal included the Northern Ireland Protocol, which kept the country within the EU single market for goods.
This was done in order to avoid creating a hard border within Ireland, which would disrupt the Good Friday Agreement critical to achieving peace on the island. However, the deal effectively created a border in the Irish Sea instead, and has left the UK locked in a war of words with the EU about how to proceed.
Mr Harris-Quincey insisted the next leader of the Conservative party must sort out the Protocol, saying: “If the next leader makes the same mistake as Boris to ignore the people that put them in office, they will be out quicker than him. If the new PM and government knows what’s good for them they will trigger Article 16 and make Northern Ireland the priority it deserves to be.”