A Tory former minister has blasted her party’s new Immigration Bill, saying if it passes it will make them “unelectable”.
In a searing speech attacking those who have “spread lies about immigration” on Monday night, Anna Soubry said she would be voting against the Government.
She said “one of the darkest moments in British history” was when Nigel Farage unveiled a poster during the EU referendum campaign featuring a group of refugees with the tagline “breaking point”.
The Broxtowe MP and ex-small business minister said: “We all know what the dog whistle was in that headline and it had absolutely nothing to do with our membership of the European Union.
“Make no mistake about it, fears were undoubtedly fuelled, prejudices were undoubtedly preyed upon by the Leave campaign to make a phoney case to this country that somehow by leaving the European Union there would be a dramatic decrease in the number of migrants in our county.
“It was a great lie, it was a great con.”
The pro-EU Ms Soubry said the only way to reduce immigration is “to trash the economy”, saying Brexit was guaranteed to do that.
Blasting politicians for “never making the positive case for immigration in this country”, she said: “I am appalled and ashamed when I meet people with brown skin who are born in this country … who tell me that after the referendum they have been pointed at and told: Why haven’t you gone home?”
She said migrants had been “spat at on public transport”, adding: “This is not a country that I recognise, this is not a country that I have to say that I am feeling proud to be a member of.
“I take the view that this is not our country and that the majority of people are good and they are tolerant. But too many of them have been told these lies.”
She said it was now the job of “each and every one of us to make the case for immigration”, both the “positive economic benefit to the country” and the “culture of this country as well”.
Ms Soubry said she would not be voting for the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill on its second reading because she “believes in the free movement of people”.
She added it “doesn’t provide surety to the EU citizens already living in the UK”, and the so-called Henry VIII powers in the Bill – which give ministers the power to alter legislation without a vote by MPs – are “simply unacceptable”.
Ms Soubry finished by saying: “I say to my party – if we pass measures like this Bill then the people of this country in time will not forgive us.
“Because this party will become unelectable, and rightly so.”