Assessment of Labour and Conservative manifestos on immigration

May 29, 2017

Now that the last immigration statistics before the election have been issued, Migration Watch UK have today published their assessment of the immigration sections of the Labour and Conservative manifestos.

The Labour manifesto makes no commitment to reduce immigration. The emphasis is on unspecified reforms intended to make the system “fair” so that it “works for the many rather than the few”. There is no indication of what might be an appropriate level of immigration for the future. They accept that free movement for EU citizens will end and expect that new rules will emerge from the Brexit negotiations. As for specific measures, abolishing the minimum income threshold for spouses and partners is likely to add to the numbers and might also add to the scope for abuse. A proposal to restore the “rights” of Overseas Domestic Workers would open a serious loophole in the present arrangements which currently involve 18,500 visas a year.Proposals to increase work place inspections to counter exploitation of migrant workers are welcome. However, the proposal to revive the Migration Impact Fund to address local strain on public services will have to involve much larger sums than the £35 million a year provided by the last Labour government if it is to have even a minimal impact.

The Conservative Manifesto makes a commitment to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands, but with no time frame attached. With net migration still at a quarter of a million a year, it is clear that the Conservatives have so far failed to reach the target, first set in 2010. While the manifesto expresses the intention to bear down on the different routes for non-EU migration there is little detail as to how this is going to be done. Students will remain in the net migration figures and the Immigration Skills Charge will be doubled to £2,000 for each skilled worker visa. The ending of free movement will allow the number of EU migrants to be controlled and reduced. The rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals in the EU will be “secured”. An effort will be made to focus support for asylum seekers on people in parts of the world affected by conflict and oppression rather than those who “have made it to Britain”.

Commenting, Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

The Labour manifesto makes it clear that they have little desire to reduce present levels of immigration - indeed, the specific measures mentioned are likely to increase it. On the other hand, the Conservative manifesto is strong on intention but with little detail on how, in practice, immigration is to be reduced. What is absolutely clear is that we simply cannot continue with massive levels of immigration into the indefinite future. This would place a huge strain on our society and it must be tackled.

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