There is no doubt that those from the EU are hard workers and are valued by their employers, but the problem is that the numbers have got out of hand.
THE leaked proposals for immigration controls after Brexit are great news, especially for working people.
Highly skilled people from the EU will still be able to get a work permit just as those from outside the EU can now.
But the huge inflow of lower-skilled workers will be cut back — that is roughly four out of five of all who have arrived from the EU since 2006.
Of course, those who have already settled here will have almost the same rights as British citizens, just as British citizens living and working in the EU will have their similar rights protected.
There will have to be a transitional period of two years or so while the new arrangements are brought into effect, but we believe that net migration from the EU can be reduced by as much as 100,000 a year.
This will be a huge step towards the Government’s eventual target of annual net migration in the tens of thousands, rather than the quarter of a million we are now experiencing.
This will certainly help to restrain the population growth that is making Britain ever more crowded.
At present we are adding to our population every year the equivalent of the city of Liverpool.
The effect of this is showing up in GPs’ surgeries, maternity units, schools and especially in housing.
Unless immigration is brought sharply down, we will have to build a new home every five minutes, night and day, just to house new migrants and their families.
The Government’s proposals are especially good for British workers because they will, over time, oblige employers to train local people rather than getting them so easily from the EU.
Employer groups are complaining. But why would an employer go to the expense of training a local when there is an unlimited supply of cheap, non-unionised workers available at the drop of a hat?
Employers will, of course, claim that with relatively low unemployment, they cannot find the people to train.
However, there are nearly 1.5 million people currently out of work in the UK and more than a million in part-time work but who are looking for full-time hours.
The answer, therefore, is that employers may have to increase wages and also invest in technology and other new systems to improve productivity, which has been flat for almost ten years. This is the key to increasing our prosperity.
EU workers will still be able to come to the UK during the transitional period but employers should start now, training up locals for when this ends.
Clearly, these changes will bring about additional enforcement challenges that will need more resources.
Enforcement is already weak, and a black market in labour flourishes in Britain. This is pure exploitation by dodgy employers and also contributes to holding down UK wages.
All this may sound quite negative towards EU workers. It is not intended to be. There is no doubt that those from the EU are hard workers and are valued by their employers. The problem is that the numbers have got out of hand.
What we now need to do is to keep the links of friendship and culture with our continental neighbours.
That is why the Government plans to continue visa-free entry for EU visitors and tourists, as well as special arrangements for students.
The task before us in making this transition is enormous, but we need to keep firmly in mind the need to reduce immigration while retaining and building on our many friendships throughout Europe.