After a petition was started to remove all illegal immigrants from the UK, the government has issued a statement in response.
Under the current guidelines, all petitions that are started on the official government website petition.parliament.uk are flagged for a government response once they reach the 10,000 signature mark, and the increase in support for this campaign has prompted a reply.
The petition is entitled ‘Begin a process of removal of illegal immigrants in the UK,’ and the short text reads:
All UK citizens are required to abide by UK law. We demand that law is applied to all. It has been reported that there could be 1 million illegal immigrants in the UK.
The petition page’s administrators approved the original campaign for publication as technically it is an issue that the government has control over, and this has been their response:
The Government is committed to reducing the size of the illegal migrant population and the harm it causes.
The Government takes a broad range of activity to prevent migrants from entering the UK illegally and overstaying, tackling the threats associated with immigration offending and to encourage and enforce the removal of illegal migrants.
In the year ending September 2017, 12,560 illegal migrants were subject to an enforced removal. During the same period, 20,691 illegal migrants returned voluntarily.
The Government does not recognise the quoted figure of “1 million illegal immigrants in the UK”. The Government does not make any official estimates of the illegal migrant population and cannot therefore comment on the accuracy or otherwise of the estimates others may make.
In the event that this petition jumps from the current total of 16,749 signatures to more than 100,000, the government will then be obliged to consider debating the issue in Parliament.
However, the debate over the viral petition to simply ‘walk away’ from the EU without a deal was attended only by those without any real influence in the negotiations, and there wasn’t a single MP on the day who voted in favour of the proposal.
Therefore, it may be argued that these petitions are simply a way of giving the wider public the ‘illusion’ that they are getting their voices heard.
The only cold comfort from that Brexit debate was the admission that there is an understanding about why the petition got so popular.
It was mentioned that the public has become ‘frustrated’ at the amount of progress in the Brexit negotiations – perhaps that is the understatement to end all understatements!
Perhaps it is only a matter of time before these petitions are considered to be an ‘inconvenience’ for those within Westminster.
How long will it take for the thresholds of 10,000 and 100,000 to be increased significantly to reflect the fact that social media is now an incredibly powerful way for absolutely anyone to reach a mass audience in a matter of hours or days?
We admit that democracy is an ever-evolving concept, but there may come a point in the near future when the general public just wonders if it really worth getting involved with these campaigns.