If Boris Johnson is baffled by Britain's cruel migration laws he should change them
An hour into his hearing in front of parliament’s influential liaison committee on Wednesday, the prime minister is likely to have felt a moment of relief as the examination moved on from the scandals of recent days.
Then, an earnest, urgent question from Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, brought Johnson’s attention to the plight of a couple in Timms’ constituency. The husband had lost his income during the Covid-19 crisis and the wife’s income was less than their monthly rent. With “No recourse to public funds” stamped on their visas, they were unable to access any support as they worked out how to make ends meet and provide for their two children (both born in the UK) and the threat of destitution hung over them.
“Er, hang on, Stephen,” Johnson replied. “Why don’t they, why aren’t they eligible for universal credit or for employment support allowance?”
It wasn’t even in the top five most reported takeaways from the hearing, but for many people, this moment (captured live on TV) was simply unbelievable. “They have no recourse to public funds,” responded Timms, who then did his best to explain to the prime minister that though they paid taxes and abided by the same laws as everyone else, most people who move to Britain from elsewhere (and anyone without documented status) are explicitly prohibited for up to 10 years from seeking the protection of the social security safety net in a time of personal or national crisis.
No recourse ...
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