The UK’s passports for sale scheme is not taking back control: it’s flogging the country to the highest bidder

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The FT has reported that:

The number of wealthy Chinese acquiring UK “golden visas” that give residency in return for investing £2m or more in assets rose sharply last year as worries over Brexit paled next to Britain’s attractiveness as a secure bolthole for international money.

Mainland Chinese took 116 of the 355 “investor visas” granted in 2017 by the UK government to wealthy individuals, up 56 per cent from the previous year.

I have to agree that, relatively speaking, the numbers here are small. But then, so too were the sums involved in the MP's expenses scandal: small numbers do not imply insignificance. This is especially true when this policy is so obviously wrong at so many levels.

At a time when migration is an issue in UK politics passports should not be for sale to anyone. If we are to believe that any policy proposal on migration is not racist we must simultaneously believe that it is not elitist. This policy is glaringly obviously just that. The flaw in doing so is seen by flipping the perspective: the reality is that most people are being excluded from the UK because they are simply not rich enough. That is of course true of most migrants, not least because they are young and hopeful but have yet to achieve their potential. The message is very clear: we are going to deny the chance to do so to them, even if we might gain enormously from their being here.

Secondly, this whole policy clearly undermines the idea of citizenship and commoditises it. This is the antithesis of any idea of nationhood which supposedly so matters to this government.

Third, this does, of course, make us a tax haven: only such places sell such rights.

Fourth, this fuels the property boom, especially in London.

Fifth, there is no evidence that the people who supposedly 'invest' in the UK actually deliver value. They may live here. But do they really deliver for the UK? I suspect not, at all. Tourism is useful, but not that useful and many who acquire these passports will not be here much of the year, I suspect.

Sixth, and perhaps most important, the whole idea that citizenship is based on principles is abandoned. I believe it should be. This reduces it to pragmatism in a way that demeans the whole idea.

This is not taking back control. This is selling the country to the highest bidder. It's a tawdry excercise that undermines and diminishes anything Great in Britain. But that's what we have come to expect.