The wife has lived here for several years. She claims that this decision breaches her human rights because she is entitled to a family life. Yet again, the spectre of the European Convention on Human Rights looms large. But, speaking through a translator because she was shy of her own English skills, she freely admitted that her husband has no intention of learning English when he gets to this country. She says that at 58 he is too old to learn a new language. She suggests she'll be able to get him a job at the factory where she works - but I sincerely doubt that. What employer is going to risk employing people without a basic grasp of the English language? They won't, if they're cautious in any sense. And, if they do, that's placing both employer and employee in a precarious position.
At first I thought this story was a simple one of location - he lived in a rural village and couldn't get access to a language teacher. There were ways around even this - supply the husband with language tapes or the wife herself could teach him before he came over here. Perhaps I was not so adverse to allowing him into the country if he was going to make an effort to integrate when he got here. But he won't. Which inevitably means more pressure on our public services. Even if he doesn't claim benefits there is still the difficulty of going to see a doctor and needing a translator in order to have a conversation. He will live a very isolated life, communicating with only the people who speak his native language. As a commentator on Radio 2 just pointed out, this will lead to more ghettos and more segregation, which does our fragmented society no good in either the short or long term.
It's painful that EU open border rules mean that we have to accept Europeans into our country, no matter what their language status. This makes it seem unfair, as if we are discriminating against countries outside the EU. This is one of the woman's claims - that we are treating her differently because of her ethnic background. One way out of this, of course, is to take full control of our borders by escaping from the EU - but that's a separate issue.
It has been pointed out that many Brits who retire to other countries don't bother to learn the language there either. That's wrong too. We should practice what we preach and the joy of learning a language is a wonderful thing. I don't know why anyone would enjoy being isolated from the people around them.