Up until 1905 Britain had absolutely no border controls.
In 1905 the Tory party passed the Aliens Act 1905 which placed modest restrictions on the mad, the utterly destitute and the criminal but maintained a right of asylum.
Even after this act up until the Great War it is safe to say that Britain’s orders remained virtually open.
Britain is the only developed nation to have practised what it preached, free movement of good, of people, money and ideas. Although many others have preached the benefits of free trade and open borders only Britain has ever embraced it.
There are not a huge number of things which make me feel patriotic, but I’m proud of this.
In fact, it almost seems to me as though immigration, openness and tolerance are an integral part of Britain’s culture.
This puts in something of a bind those who want to close our borders to protect Britain’s culture and those who rail against multiculturalism.
To those who argue that Britain’s indigenous culture must be protected it appears that it is only by discarding one part of Britain’s culture that another part of it can be protected.
I don’t think this is a good trade but moreover I also see it as deeply craven.
Britain has its problems, but for a woman fleeing rural Nigeria or a Tamil leaving Sri Lanka this country offers a respect for their conscience, their body and their security that they will get in few other places.
Radical Islam is deeply unattractive to almost everyone, that’s why terrorist attacks are relatively speaking rare. Poles aspire to move here because we can offer a chance to earn money in relative freedom.
I think the world I live in, drenched in tolerance, humour and cricket, offers a culture far more attractive prospect than those referred to above where individuals are not respected as free and of equal worth.
I’m not worried for Britain’s culture because I think it will win. But as with the erosion of our civil liberties in the face of a terrorist threat to protect said liberties, the “protection” of Britain’s culture will only damage it.