David Cameron has said immigrants who arrive in the UK on a spousal visa will face deportation if they can’t improve their English language skills within two-and-a-half years of their arrival.
Cameron warned that not speaking the language adequately could make people “more susceptible” to the recruitment messages of groups such as the Islamic State (IS) — though there was no “causal link”.
Cameron faced a backlash from Muslim groups and former Cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi for linking the issue of English language skills to extremism.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, he suggested that family members could be removed from the country if, after two and a half years, they had not shown adequate improvements. “Halfway through the five-year spousal settlement programme, there will be another opportunity to make sure your English is improving,” he said. “You can’t guarantee you will be able to stay if you are not improving.”
Labour MP Rupa Huq accused Mr Cameron of “playing to the gallery” by suggesting the authorities would deport women for failing to learn English while at the same time cutting back lessons in English as a foreign language at FE colleges.
“Sending people away for not speaking English would be more likely to make potential jihadis angry,” she said.
David Cameron argued that not speaking English adequately could make people “more susceptible” to groups like Islamic State.
He also attacked wider segregation of women, saying it was “not acceptable” that some were not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative and were excluded from school meetings with their spouses.
“The reason for doing this is to build a more integrated country, to build a One Nation Britain,” he said. A No 10 spokesperson said full details of the policy would be published later this year.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said Mr Cameron was “using British Muslims as a political football to score cheap points to appear tough”.