Migration Watch UK press release: Immigration and trade in the Brexit negotiations

September 09, 2016

Making concessions on immigration in exchange for Single Market membership would contradict the outcome of the Referendum

Any UK concessions on free movement in the upcoming Brexit negotiations would have to be so large that they would betray the democratic mandate for controlled and reduced immigration delivered by the British people in the referendum.

This is the conclusion of a summary paper (read full paper here) being released by Migration Watch UK.

It finds that the assertion commonly made that the UK must make compromises on the free movement of labour in exchange for Single Market membership is mistaken and would, in practice, amount to an invalidation of the Referendum result.

In any such negotiation, the EU might well press for a quota of migration into the UK for lower-skilled work. This type of migration accounts for 80% of EU workers who have arrived in the UK in the last ten years and the independent Migration Advisory Committee has found this brings little or no benefit to the budget, production per head or productivity.

The UK issues about 600,000 National Insurance Numbers to EU citizens each year, although not all are for work and some workers are only here temporarily.

Instead of making concessions on free movement in exchange for Single Market membership, Migration Watch UK argues that the UK should treat immigration as a completely separate area of negotiation.

Our current immigration system should be applied to EU migrants, amended as necessary, so that EU migration for work be subject to a suitable cap and restricted to those going into highly-skilled roles – this would reduce net migration by as much as 100,000 a year.

It would also make sense to exempt tourists, students, genuine marriage partners and the self-sufficient from both visas and numerical limits. However, this could hardly be described as a concession as it is clearly of benefit to both sides. The numbers are very small, they are beneficial to the UK economy and add little to net migration over the longer term.

Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Vice-Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

The vast majority of the public, including nearly 50% of Remain voters, say it is essential that net migration be reduced. Accordingly, we must keep the immigration and trade sectors as separate as possible. There is nothing to be gained and a good deal of clarity to be lost by connecting them.

To read the full briefing paper, click here.

To read about Migration Watch UK's proposed post-exit immigration policy, click here.

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