CBI seek an open door for cheap migrant labour


September 11, 2018

The Confederation of British Industry’s post-Brexit immigration proposals are unworkable, self-contradictory and rest on a host of unsupported claims.

These are the findings of a new report (MW454 - CBI’s case for an ‘open and controlled’ immigration system rests on weak arguments) being released by Migration Watch UK.

On 10 August, the CBI published a 30-page report entitled “Open and controlled” which contained their proposals for post Brexit immigration control.

First, examination of their economic case for further large-scale immigration of workers revealed it to be extraordinarily thin. Much of it was based on a Migration Observatory paper which they had misconstrued. It certainly lacked any evidence whatever that economic immigration adds to GDP per head rather than total GDP. It also misrepresented HMRC data on the fiscal contribution of EEA migrants.

As for their proposals for a new immigration system for workers, they fail to stand up to scrutiny. They suggest that restoring public trust requires a system that measures contribution rather than net migration, yet they do not suggest how this might be done.

They go on to suggest that qualification and salary restrictions for work visas should be removed to enable a business to employ whoever it wants and that the overall cap on work permits should be scrapped. This would be equivalent to an open door, as in the title of their paper.

Their third proposal is that migration should be included in the trade negotiations despite the risk that this would be advantageous to the EU.

Finally, they suggest that a new and separate system be set up for EU applicants for work permits. The administrative and practical difficulties of such duplication are surely obvious.

Commenting, Lord Green of Deddington said:

The CBI proposals are at best impractical and at worst absurd. They would lead to a burst of immigration similar to that triggered by the Labour government when they relaxed the immigration rules on dubious economic arguments and saw net migration more than treble in two years. They need to wake up to the strength of public feeling on immigration and come forward with effective measures to train British workers – something on which the UK’s employers have failed miserably for much of the last decade.


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