Leading article

Tory hardline stance on migrants will cause concern

One of the most fascinating aspects of this week's Conservative Party conference in Manchester is the way in which the focus is already shifting to the next Westminster election and who will take over from David Cameron.

The prime minister has signalled he will not serve another term, a decision that means the party is already moving on and looking towards his successor.

Which is one possible explanation for Theresa May's speech yesterday pledging to overhaul the immigration system in terms that have caused considerable controversy.

The home secretary was uncompromising in her language, warning large numbers of foreign arrivals are putting British workers out of a job and forcing down wages.

She said she would act to reduce the numbers gaining asylum and ``put Britain first.''

Mrs May's language and the message it sends out is deeply alarming at a time when Europe is facing the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war.

She said if there were fewer people wrongly claiming asylum then Britain could afford to be more generous ``helping the most vulnerable people in the world's most dangerous places.''

Again, this sort of skewed thinking will cause widespread dismay. Vulnerable and helpless people should receive the help they need, not be part of some political equation.

Not surprisingly, the home secretary's speech has caused an outcry and not just from those working in support of refugees.

The Institute of Directors dismissed as `nonsense' any suggestion that migrants are stealing jobs.

Director general Simon Walker said political leaders should stop vilifying migrants and acknowledge the hugely important contribution they make to the economy.

Unfortunately, with senior Tories jockeying for position, we are unlikely to see a measured, responsible approach from the likes of Mrs May, who is clearly focusing on the right-wing vote.

Stormont politicians should also take note as this conference suggests the party is in no mood to be benevolent.

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