Tom Whitehead, Daily Express (London), September 11, 2008
PUBLIC anger on spiralling immigration could spill over into violence on Britain’s streets if not addressed, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, warned yesterday.
In a stark message, he said the “glue that binds our society together is weakening” and called for a cap on the numbers coming in.
The former head of the Anglican Church also said it was not racist to raise concerns over large scale immigration or question what it will mean to be British in the future.
His comments were widely supported last night by those campaigning for change.
Lord Carey said: “There is deep visceral distress, bordering on anger, among many British people of all colours concerning migration. We have seen how this can spill over into violence in European countries such as France, the Netherlands and Denmark. It would be arrogant to assume that this could never happen in Britain.
“We must turn a potential crisis into a creative approach that deepens our sense of community and nationhood.” Lord Carey is a member of Britain’s first cross-party group on immigration, which was launched on Monday and called for a policy of “balanced migration”.
The group, which also contains Labour and Conservative MPs, wants migrant workers limited to a four-year stay in the UK.
In addition the number then allowed to settle each year should be restricted so it is broadly the same as the level of emigration to stabilise the population.
Lord Carey, writing in a newspaper opinion article, said it was “not enough” just to hope numbers would fall.
He added: “Our critics must answer some obvious questions. How will England cope if the present predicted levels of large-scale immigration take place? And if this scale of immigration continues, with people of different faiths, cultures and traditions coming here, what will it mean to be British?” Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “This is a very frank and courageous article.
“Many people have been concerned at the Church’s long silence over issues of such importance.”
Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said: “Labour’s failure to control immigration is putting real pressure on local communities.
“The Immigration Minister himself has said that it has deeply unsettled the country. This Government’s open-door policy is putting community cohesion at risk.”
A group of MPs warned in July that the Government must act urgently to defuse tensions before concern over immigration boils over into riots.