Candidates 'do not subscribe to Farage view' on immigration - Kenilworth election hustings

By James Smith

24th Jun 2024 | General Election 2024

Only four of the election candidates came to the hustings (image by James Smith)
Only four of the election candidates came to the hustings (image by James Smith)

Kenilworth's election hopefuls were all quick to thank the local community for its support of local asylum seekers over the past few years, at last week's hustings.

The four candidates for Kenilworth and Southam who attended the event at Kenilworth Methodist Church were each asked whether they would welcome more asylum seekers and refugees to the local area.

All four said it was right to give a new home to people forced to leave their own countries, but they also all highlighted issues within the immigration system.

Alix Dearing said she "absolutely" would welcome more asylum seekers to the area, and said she wished the money spent on the Rwanda scheme had gone into improving the "very broken system".

"I think, yes we do welcome them, but the problem is so many of these refugees are languishing and the processing system has been so underfunded and so slow, it is an awful situation," the Green Party candidate said. 

"I know an Eritrean civil engineer who has been here for a long period and he is not allowed to work. 

"I think if we don't process people quickly, we should allow them to work."

Alix Dearing (Green) and Jenny Wilkinson (Lib Dem) both called for the immigration system to be reformed (image by James Smith)

Labour's Cat Price also said it was important to make sure there was sufficient support available to asylum seekers.

"Kenilworth was an amazing example of how a community can welcome asylum seekers and refugees, successfully," she told the audience. 

"That said, it is never completely straightforward. 

"The idea of how long these things take, the practicalities of when people can work, the practicalities of housing and language issues - obviously all these things need to be addressed. 

"I think it is shocking to put so much of the responsibility of that onto community and volunteer groups who do an amazing job. 

"It shouldn't be something the government both nationally and locally are leaning on."

Meanwhile Sir Jeremy Wright said it was important the country is able to differentiate between economic migrants and actual asylum seekers, saying we cannot take an unlimited number of the former.

"I do not subscribe to the Nigel Farage point of view that says immigration should be effectively zero," the Conservative explained. 

Sir Jeremy Wright said it was important to distinguish between economic migrants and asylum seekers (image by James Smith)

"But in order to make sure his point of view is defeated, we have to make sure we have systems which have integrity, systems that work and systems that allow us to support the needy in preference of those who are perfectly rationally seeking a better life in this country, but from whom we cannot accept everyone."

And asking the question last, Liberal Democrat candidate Jenny Wilkinson also thanked locals for their efforts in supporting asylum seekers, and reiterated the need for the system to be overhauled.

"There is a real issue in terms of our system in processing asylum seekers," she added.

"There is a long waiting list and long delays for people getting through the system. 

"I think it is about £290 million that has been spent on the Rwanda scheme so far - if only that had been spent in investing in the processing systems, so people aren't kept waiting to be processed for such a long time."

All the local election candidates were invited to the hustings.

     

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