Get Britain Out | 12/12/2018
Immigration is a taboo subject which people do not like to speak about, but during Brexit it has been one of the most talked-about issues. For too long, society’s understanding of immigration has been two-fold. We have believed it to be either good or bad exclusively. The reality of immigration is it can be both! It is something we can be, very rightly, proud of in Britain, and there are aspects we should be downright ashamed of. For many, Brexit means the end of the ‘Free Movement of People’ from the European Union to the UK. However, it should not be about fencing ourselves in and erecting a border around the United Kingdom. On the contrary in fact. It should be about creating an effective immigration system so we can open avenues to expertise and skills groups our country needs.
Human history is the history of migration and the most sophisticated civilizations arose where human traffic was heaviest. The Ancient Near East, the Indian subcontinent, China, the Americas, Europe – all had constant influxes of migrants bringing new ideas and change. And in ancient Greece, the Delphic priests regarded the right of unfettered movement as one of four freedoms, distinguishing liberty from slavery (sound familiar?). Because they did not feel responsible for newcomers, rulers often saw migrants as an asset rather than a liability. They would add to a region’s wealth, contribute to taxes and serve in local armies. However, responsibility for one’s fellow neighbours, whether from inside or outside Britain, should ensure no immigrant is abused in the way it was in the ancient world. The benefits of unlimited migration were based on exploitation, which never was, is or will be acceptable.
In today’s world, migration is not just from our neighbouring countries. Migration into the UK is from all over the world. For centuries Britain’s diverse and rich societal tapestry has been helped by immigration, giving Britain a cultural and economic wealth almost unequalled the world over. It is a cold hard fact – unlimited inward immigration heaps pressure on services and society. However, it is another cold hard fact: without immigration, there would be a catastrophic skills vacuum and deficit in Britain. We must strike the correct balance.
In Sajid Javid’s new Immigration Bill, we should be seeking to adopt a migration policy which is in our best interest. For many it is easy to say and think ‘less migration is better’. However, we do need people coming to the UK to help fill our skills gaps, who pay taxes and contribute to our economy and who enhance the fabric of British society. Migration is beneficial, but we must have a policy which makes migration beneficial for everyone and to introduce innovative technology and ideas.
Currently, for non-EU citizens wanting to live in Britain, they must meet the minimum threshold of being able to earn £30,000 per annum. If this rule was implemented today also applied to EU citizens, 76% would fail to meet this target. Therefore, it is frankly ridiculous to have this monetary CAP. If we need more nurses than investment bankers, then let’s get more nurses. If a British company needs a specialist part made abroad, they order it and it becomes a part in a British product. It should be the same with immigration. Skills-based migration should become part of our national entity which improves the entire entity.
For example, we are facing a skills deficit in our construction sector. We need to train skills at home, but the time delay from training to deploying skills must be filled by immigration. However, even with the Government promising 3,000,000 apprenticeships in construction by 2020, there is still the problem of finding willing candidates in the youth of Britain. It is no longer an attractive industry for Britons because it does not fit the ‘lifestyle’ of today’s generation of young people – a generation of ‘expectation’. This is where immigration could be our saving grace, allowing this core British industry to remain vibrant, creating a stream of tax flow to the Government. The positive spiral from immigration can and should be utilised for the national interest – and our economic growth.
An immigration system which places a person’s skillset as the determining criteria, rather than country of birth, would be a vastly fairer approach, allowing the UK to become a global hub for talent. Countries such as Singapore and China are at the forefront of exciting new technological innovations. If Britain wants to seize these opportunities and begin to develop its own industries in these fields, embracing people with the necessary expertise should be a must. Our immigration policy should realistically be looking at the best way to attract such people – not place hurdles in their way.
Once we Get Britain Out of the EU, we will have the opportunity to pursue an immigration policy which is not only fairer, but will also help the economy to grow. We are of one mind – we must be economically prosperous for Brexit Britain’s future on the global stage.