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A Christmas message to the Home Office

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced that British citizens with foreign partners would need to earn double the current minimum requirement in order for their loved one to obtain a visa to live in the UK.

There has been a huge amount of backlash to this, forcing the Home Office into an embarrassing climbdown late yesterday evening. As things stand the requirement will still increase, but by a lower amount. The UK Government has indicated though that it intends to raise this figure again.

I didn't get round to sending the new Home Secretary a Christmas card, so I've decided to gift him my thoughts and sent him this letter instead.

House Of Commons address and crowned portcullis emblem

The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department

Sent by email

Friday 22 December 2023

Dear Secretary of State,

Following the Prime Minister's rather bold announcement of the doubling of minimum salary requirements for family and partner visas, I have been contacted by a large number of individual concerned constituents.

Although I welcome your backtracking yesterday, it was incredibly poor form for you to have waited until Parliament adjourned for the Christmas recess to sneak the news out. Your unwillingness to face Members of Parliament to be held accountable confirms that you are unable to defend your Government's chaotic policy development practices. I have such little faith in your administration's ability to form workable policy that I have opted to send this letter by email rather than post, lest you be tempted to use the back of the envelope to draft your new border strategy.

Given that your party has presided over a sustained period of real-terms wage stagnation, a substantial increase to minimum salary requirements for any British citizen wishing to bring a foreign family member or partner to live with them adds insult to injury.

Although the minimum salary requirement will not rise as much as was originally announced, you have indicated that it is still your intention to do so, at some point, whenever you have figured out what your policy actually is. Such chaos must be a welcome relief for civil servants at the Home Office, who might have otherwise worried that a new Home Secretary would improve working conditions by changing how the Department operates. They can rest assured knowing that if nothing else, there is continuity in the level of incompetence at the helm.

The policy announcement and subsequent muted retrocession has made it abundantly evident that Home Office policy is not being created for to benefit the citizens of these islands, nor to meet economic need. Your Government seems solely motivated by the pursuit of tawdry newspaper headlines rather than exercising its executive powers to manifestly improve the lives of the very people it is supposed to serve.

The UK Government's seeming unwillingness and inability to develop sensible immigration policy is followed by failure to communicate the changes it makes. My constituents did not know how these salary requirements might impact them and this confusion has caused fear, panic and anxiety.

You have failed to communicate the impact of this policy from an equality perspective, perhaps because you have not make an adequate assessment of this. Your policy will almost doubtlessly have a particular impact on women and young adults.

There also seems to have been little thought given to regional income variations and the disproportionate way this policy will be felt across these islands. A number of my constituents have voiced to me their belief that this change is yet another blatant example of London-centric policy making, hitting those living outside of the South East of England the hardest.

Several of my constituents are fearful as to what this divisive decision means for them and their families. These are people who uphold their civic responsibilities. They are people who work, pay taxes and contribute to our communities. They are already expected to pay absurd Home Office fees, making additional financial contributions towards the operation of Government that other families do not have to consider.

Each of my constituents who have contacted me has echoed their concerns that individuals are being punished because of who they love, and that families will be broken up and be unable to live together. Some of my constituents are now facing the prospect of leaving the country - and taking their vital skills with them - or facing a future without their families and spouses. With an ageing population, surely you should be making it your mission to encourage more individuals into the care sector, for example, and not out of the country.

Scotland's problem has never been immigration, but emigration. The Home Office continues to exacerbate and compound this problem. This latest debacle proves once again that Ministers in London are unable to govern the United Kingdom in a way which meets the rich and diverse needs of all parts of these islands.

I hold little faith that you will take heed of my constituents' concerns but gently suggest that you utilise the quiet news cycle over the Christmas and New Year period to save face and quietly drop this policy altogether.

I wish you a peaceful Christmas, and all the best when the New Year comes.

Yours sincerely,


David Linden MP
Member of Parliament for Glasgow East