Highlights from UK Conservative conference

A UK report from Missy:


Well, today was the last day of the Conservative Conference and Theresa May gave her keynote speech – which I will get to in a separate post. First a few highlights from yesterday which saw the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary both give their speeches.

Home Secretary:

The Home Secretary announced that they will not be looking to making any kind of free movement deal with Canada, Australia, and NZ, thought to be fair this has only ever been pushed as an idea here from lobby groups, but for the Home Secretary to announce it won’t happen shows that those lobbying are obviously being heard.

The Conservatives will bring in new laws to make it easier to deport EU citizens that commit crimes in the UK. This was one of the main issues of the referendum, and one of the issues that the Remain campaign did not address fully for the electorate. I think it is approximately 10% of serious sex offenders in prison in the UK are from the EU, and at present under EU laws it is very difficult for the UK to deport them, the laws that the Government are looking to introduce will apparently make it easier for this to happen.

On Immigration, the Government have outlined their post-Brexit immigration policy of being a work permit based scheme, as opposed to a points based scheme. Theresa May has previously indicated she does not agree with points based immigration systems as they tend to still allow immigrants in who have no jobs, under the proposals from the Government, immigrants will only be able to come if they have a job prior to applying to emigrate – this is similar to what all non EU citizens currently have to do now, so will mean no change to NZers, but will be a big change for the EU citizens.

The Home Secretary also announced that Companies in Britain would have to register how many foreign worker they have working for them, and show why they had to employ a foreign worker rather than a British worker. This has gained a backlash, and already today the Conservatives were back pedalling on it a bit, so I won’t be surprised if this dies a quiet death.

Defence:

The biggest – and some will argue most important – announcement on defence relates to the vexatious cases being brought against serving, and former, members of the defence force. The Government will pass a law allowing them to suspend the European Convention of Human Rights for the military in all future conflicts. Unfortunately they are unable to make this a retrospective law, so all current claims will continue to be investigated. But it signals an intent to not leave the military open to being pursued in civilian courts, against civilian situations, for battlefield actions. This move has been welcomed by many in the defence area – both former and serving. Just to note the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU, it is a separate treaty that was set up prior to the EU.

What I have gained from the summaries on the speeches at the conference is that the Conservatives appear to be listening to, and acting on, the concerns of many of the population, and that regardless of what is happening behind closed doors they are publicly showing a united front – quite a contrast to Labour where many of their front benches included veiled and pointed comments about their leader.