It was belated, following decades of inaction and errors on Hong Kong, but the British government did the right thing when Dominic Raab offered Hong Kongers sanctuary in this country in the face of China’s hijack of the city. A huge 85 per cent of Conservative Party members agreed with the Foreign Secretary’s decision – a remarkably clear majority.
And so, Hong Kongers who have taken the agonising decision to leave their homes are starting to arrive in the UK. Not just Nathan Law, the prominent democracy activist, but others without public profile. Indeed, in my local community Facebook group a couple of people have recently introduced themselves, asking for tips on adapting to life in the UK.
It strikes me that this is a moment at which the Conservative Party itself should be putting on a warm welcome to these new arrivals. After all, a Conservative Government has established the policy, and Conservative members think it a good thing, so shouldn’t we also assist practically to help people making this move to settle in here?
British Conservatives have long looked enviously at the way in which the Canadian Conservative Jason Kenney and his colleagues built relationships with ethnic minority communities in Canada. Kenney met with people, listened to their concerns, interests and ambitions, and championed policies to help in response.
Back in 2014, Rishi Sunak (whatever happened to him?) wrote on this site that:
“[Kenney] emphasised the importance of personal contact for new immigrants – the political party that engages first has an opportunity to frame how new arrivals perceive that party and its motivations.”
Well, here is just such an opportunity to stop wondering at what Kenney did, and start putting the principle into practice. Will the Conservative Party – as a national organisation, as local associations, or as individuals – seize it?