Leaked Home Office paper says EU immigration should benefit Britons
The immigration system we have with the EU already does. Not only are Britons able to enjoy free movement across 31 other countries, we also get the benefit of the single market and the investment and jobs it brings.
A Home Office paper leaked to the Guardian on the government’s proposals for immigration post-Brexit reveals plans to deter EU citizens from coming to the UK. It does this by essentially making the UK a less appealing place for them to go. They can still come without needing a visa although they will need a passport rather than a national identity card, which is what many EU citizens use to travel with. They are also free to come and work. But as the Guardian reports in its initial story, the proposals in the leaked paper “extends elements of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ measures” to newly arriving EU citizens.
The 82-page paper outlines proposals for the government’s post-Brexit immigration plans for a three-phase approach in more detail. You can see a full copy of the leaked paper on the Guardian’s website. It also has a report highlighting 10 key points from it if you have less time to read the full report. Many of this morning’s newspapers also have reports on its contents.
Here, we focus on one point in the paper, which emphasises that “immigration should not just benefit the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off”.
Put plainly, this means that, to be considered valuable to the country as a whole, immigration should benefit not just the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off.
Draft Home Office post-Brexit immigration paper
The Guardian suggests the language throughout the paper has a strong ‘Britain first’ theme running through it and this point certainly feels like it does. Perhaps it’s this ‘Britain first’ tone or the view to create a more ‘hostile environment’ for people wanting to come to the UK, but its inclusion suggests the government questions whether migrants do make Britons better off.
Here’s Labour MP Alison McGovern on Radio 5 Live on the tone of immigration talk in the UK:
— Open Britain (@Open_Britain) 6 September 2017
Well, in case the government needs reminding, migrants do make Britons better off. Not only are they here working and paying taxes (in some cases doing jobs many employers can’t find enough Brits willing or with the skills to do), they’re also our friends, neighbours and partners. Of course, with the system we already have as an EU member, Britons can also enjoy free movement meaning we can live, work and study across 31 other countries (including EEA countries & Switzerland). But as free movement within the EU extends to the free movement of goods, capital and services as well as people, Britons benefit even more from the system we have now. It’s this that allows us to take part in the EU’s single market, which has brought huge levels of investment and jobs to the UK precisely because the UK can act as a gateway to the rest of Europe. This is something the prime minister will have been reminded of during her recent visit to Japan. Britain’s 40-plus year membership of the EU has helped the UK economy to be one of the most successful in the world.
The bottom line, which may surprise many people, is that EU immigration has not harmed the pay, jobs or public services enjoyed by Britons. In fact, for the most part it has likely made us better off.
Jonathan Wadsworth, co-author of Brexit and the Impact of Immigration on the UK by the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance
A report by the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance on Brexit and the impact of immigration in the UK showed conclusive evidence that EU immigration has not had “significantly adverse effects” on people born in the UK. It also concluded that ending free movement would damage the economy. In a statement about the research, co-author Jonathan Wadsworth said “the bottom line, which may surprise many people, is that EU immigration has not harmed the pay, jobs or public services enjoyed by Britons. In fact, for the most part, it has likely made us better off”.
More recently, the government seems united in wanting a transition period when the UK leaves so that, for people and businesses, there is minimal change. Businesses and trade unions have called on the government to seek staying in the single market and customs union until a new relationship is in place. And the government’s position papers for Brexit talks suggest the UK wants a transition that’s as close to the status quo as possible. But this leaked paper, even if it is still only a draft, could well hamper that. The Times reports the proposals contradict previous assurances given to businesses that the only change during the transition period would be a requirement for EU citizens to register. This is something the EU’s free movement framework also includes and many countries have chosen to adopt. The UK (so far) hasn’t. But The Times’ Sam Coates writes the proposals suggest that even during the transition period, EU citizens wanting to stay beyond a few months will need permission from the Home Office, which could “imperil Britain’s chances of a smooth transition deal”.
The paper shows Theresa May has chosen to appease the hardline Brexiteers over what’s best for the country.