At 160 pages, the Immigration White Paper must be, for the Conservatives, the longest suicide note in their history

January 04, 2019

The new system for immigration after Brexit, slipped out just before Christmas, is “worse than useless”. That is the verdict of a Migration Watch UK assessment (MW458 Assessment of the White Paper on Immigration after Brexit).

These proposals amount to continued free movement for EU workers, whether skilled or not, with no effective means of ensuring departure. They also enormously widen the field for skilled and semi-skilled workers from the entire world with no caps on numbers.

There are no measures whatever to reduce the sheer scale of immigration to the UK – a concern of about 38 million people – and currently running at a net 270,000 a year.

Instead, the immigration system is to be thrown open to the whole world with very few controls. Such as are retained will be very easily evaded.

The following are the main changes:

  • Removal of any cap on skilled migration (degree level) from anywhere in the world.
  • Removal of the requirement that jobs should first be advertised in the UK, to the disadvantage of British workers and, apparently, for the convenience of industry.
  • Introduction of an effectively new route for semi-skilled workers (“A” level and above) from anywhere in the world and with no cap. The earnings threshold is still under review and may yet be reduced from £30,000 p.a. to perhaps £21,000 p.a.
  • A new route, uncapped and initially for five years, for unskilled workers from “low risk” countries to come and work for a year before returning home for a one year “cooling off period”. The implication is that they can then return to the UK to work.
  • Visitors from these low risk countries will be allowed to find a job and stay on to work.
  • The present Youth Mobility scheme is capped at 60,000 a year and applies mainly to some Anglophone countries. It allows people between 18 and 30 to visit for up to two years and to work. It has been offered to the EU on a reciprocal basis with no mention of a cap. Ironically, unless tight conditions are imposed, this could well mean that immigration from the EU would continue virtually unabated for years to come.

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

These measures are worse than useless. They are so extensive as to be unenforceable by a Home Office that cannot even enforce the present system and is evading its responsibility to fulfil manifesto promises. The government have simply caved in to the employers lobby. This White Paper is a betrayal of all those who voted for Brexit in the expectation that immigration would be reduced and of the millions of others who consistently report that they wish to see less immigration. At 160 pages this must be, for the Conservatives, the longest suicide note in their history.

Notes to Editors

1. The 38 million in para 3 refers to a Channel 4 Delta poll in June 2018 (reported here) which found that 73% of the UK population want the government to honour their manifesto pledge to reduce net migration from the current level of 273,000 a year to the tens of thousands. The adult population of the UK is 52.1 million.

2. “The longest suicide note in history” is an epithet originally used by the Labour MP Gerald Kaufman to describe his party’s 1983 election manifesto.

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