The extent to which most of us can claim this Island as our own or at least its heritage as something we share is extremely limited. One of the programmes my family enjoys watching is Who Do You Think You Are which discloses the stories of famous people and shows how some people who one assumes are descended from generations of British residents actually have far more cosmopolitan backgrounds than any of us might appreciate. By the same token it is not difficult to come across stories of individuals who despite clearly possessing British citizenship have chosen to reside elsewhere for reasons such as tax status or even to enjoy a different type of weather or similar. Inevitably such people are usually those whose wealth exceeds that of the man on the Clapham Omnibus. A story emerged this weekend of a lady who was deported to the land of her birth at the age of 52 despite having lived in the UK since before 1990 when she met John Clennell in London pub and they got married. The couple have two children, one of whom is 27 and the other is 25. Irene Clennell was granted Indefinite Leave to Remain following their marriage. However due to extended time spent in Singapore when Mrs Clennell was caring for her parents, this lapsed and on Sunday she was deported. A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications for leave to remain in the UK are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. We expect those with no legal right to remain in the country to leave.”
There are descriptions of the story from a couple of sources here and here and like all such cases there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding what has happened which could only be resolved by actually meeting the Clennell’s and also those who claim to have made the decision to deport on their individual merits. However it does not require detailed analysis to determine that this is not how I want my nation to be. In or out of the EU, with or without Scotland, with or without some form of proportional representation, I want my nation to be one that welcomes visitors, that values those willing to raise a family and invest in our culture. It was telling that yesterday Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and the Home Secretary, when interviewed about the Bill to enact Clause 50 was clear that she does not believe the House of Lords has anything to contribute apart from rubber stamping the decision of the House of Commons. No doubt she would take the same line on this case. However we need a Home Secretary and indeed a Government that sees the value of listening and learning and can understand that this story is not one the British nation should be proud of. We need a change to our immigration system and we need it now!