Immigrants to Britain in the past five decades have been treated like hotel guests who “do not belong”, the Archbishop of York said yesterday. Dr John Sentamu said the failure of migrants to integrate had contributed to the collapse of a common British culture and the lack of a national sense of direction. He called for recognition of the Christian heritage which used to bind the nation together.
The Archbishop’s powerful attack on uncontrolled immigration and on the Left-wing interpretation of multiculturalism that encourages migrants to ignore traditional British values, was made in a speech to Gordon Brown’s think tank, the Smith Institute.
Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu, who came to Britain in the 1970s, said it was important to remember that Britain had always provided refuge for economic migrants. He said 250,000 Jewish people had come before the First World War, and had integrated and been accepted. “What happened after the Second World War was a different phenomenon,” Dr Sentamu continued. “For the first time, significant numbers of immigrants from a non Judaeo-Christian background settled in the UK.”
He referred to the view of Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks that until the 1950s immigrants were like guests in a country house, who were expected to assimilate British values and to belong to the existing society. But with the decline of empire and the growth of Commonwealth immigration, the pattern had become more like a hotel.
“Guests are entitled to stay if they can pay their way and receive basic services in return for their payment,” he said. “But they are guests – they do not belong. In the same way, migrants to Britain from the 1960s onwards have made their home with their cultural rights protected under legislation framed under a multicultural perspective. Consequently, any sense of a shared common culture is eroded, risking increasing segregation.”