By Alp Mehmet
Vice Chairman of Migration Watch UK
The Sun, 25 March, 2018
The transition agreement with the EU, formally approved on Friday, is useless for controlling immigration. Free movement for citizens of the EU is to continue for nearly three years from now.
Worse, all those who arrive in that period will acquire the right to permanent residence. Over the last ten years or so, on average, about half a million EU citizens every year have applied for a National Insurance number at one of our job centres.
From June, Croatians will also be able to do the same and stay indefinitely if they so choose. Nobody knows how many of those coming to work will be tempted to stay, many to be joined by family members, when they know that the gates are about to close.
Those who voted to leave the EU because they felt strongly about our loss of control of EU migration rightly believed their voice had finally been heard.
The Government thus far have let them down badly; they are right to feel aggrieved.
Immigration was not just an important reason for the Brexit vote; it was, according to the polls, the single most important issue of voter concern on the eve of referendum day in June 2016.
While the voice of voters may have been heard in the referendum result, it is also all too clear that it has since been largely ignored.
The Government might have been influenced by more recent opinion polls which show that immigration has fallen slightly down the public’s list of concerns. If that is true it is because they expect Brexit to deliver on their expectations. It is looking increasingly likely that they will be sorely disappointed.
Last Tuesday’s agreement on the transition arrangements are a complete cop out on immigration. Ultimately, employers who are either not themselves affected by mass immigration or who profit handsomely from it want as little change as possible to current arrangements.
They have been supported by those who have always favoured loose immigration controls, and they have won hands down.
The Government, it seems, were ready to sacrifice immigration control to achieve an interim agreement. If this should be the eventual result, the electorate will not readily forgive them.