On immigration, Brown scored a point by saying that the LibDem amnesty for irregular migrants who had been here for at least ten years, spoke English and hadn't committed any offence, would act as a magnet for new irregular migrants. But since most irregulars now are entering as students, and that route is being closed down, and since from the end of this year migrants are going to be counted out as well as in, there will never again be the numbers that we have today. The fact is also that many of the 280,000 'legacy cases' are already being granted an amnesty under Immigration Rule 395C, which requires that before a decision is taken to remove a person, regard shall be had to his age; length of residence in the UK; strength of connections with the UK; personal history including character, conduct and employment record; criminal record and the nature of any offences; compassionate circumstances, and any representations made on his behalf. Somebody who has been here for more than 10 years with a clean record would have a very good chance of being allowed to stay here already under this Rule, of which the Prime Minister appeared to be unaware.
There are also Rules 276A to D 'Long residence' , which provides that a person who has been lawfully resident in the UK for 10 years or 14 years without being subject to notice of removal, having regard to the same factors as in Rule 395C above, should be granted indefinite leave to remain.
So these rules effectively provide an amnesty, and are designed to avoid judicial challenges that would otherwise be made under the European Human Rights Convention against the removal of long-stay immigrants.