On the 23rd of June 2016, the U.K. will hold a referendum on it’s membership of the European Union. There are many aspects to the ‘Brexit’ debate, and in this article, I will be focusing solely on the debate surrounding immigration, and why Britain would be better with an immigration policy constructed exclusively by British lawmakers without influence from the E.U. bureaucracy.
The latest net migration statistics show that in the year ending December 2015, net migration into the United Kingdom stood at 330’000. According to the Office of National Statistics, who use the International Passenger Survey to come up with these figures, of these 330’000 migrants who entered the U.K., 184’000 were from the European Union. Also, from the current data we hold, there are roughly around 1.2 million British migrant living in other EU countries, compared with around 3.0 million EU migrants living in the UK.
The reason these figures regarding EU migration to and from the United Kingdom is so high is due to the following fact: a fundamental aspect of being a member of the European Union is the subscription to one of its founding principles , that is, the free movement of people within the European Union. This means that somebody living in Germany can go to live and work in Sweden. Or somebody living in the UK can go to live in Italy, for example. While this may bring many benefits, as I have experienced multiple times in my own personal life, the drawbacks are becoming more and more evident. Primarily since the introduction of former Soviet Bloc countries into the Union (such as Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria) and more recently, the EU migrant crisis currently unfolding across the continent (this will be covered in part 2).
As of November 2015, the number of Romanian and Bulgarian workers topped 200,000. It represents a rise of 16 per cent on the year before. Also, the number of workers from the former eight communist countries reached 982,000 between the end of July 2015 and the end of September 2015. Up 200,000 in just two years. This number will only rise in the coming years.
Now, it is important to recognise that a lot of these migrants are coming to the U.K. in order to work, better themselves, and simply make more money than what they would in their native countries. For example, in Euros, the national minimum wage per month before the deduction of income tax and other social security contributions (not adjusted for inflation) in the U.K. is 1, 509.70, whereas in Romania it is 234.77. The creates a massive pull factor for potential migrants, and in turn, has negative effects for low-income earners in the UK job market. According to the Migration Advisory Committee, mass migration has cause the wages of these individuals to shrink. The Bank of England has also found that mass migration has caused reductions in the level of pay on offer to care workers, waiting staff, and cleaners.
I would argue that the intentions of the vast number of these migrants are noble, however as demonstrated this can have negative drawbacks for British workers on the lower pay-scale. This is without mentioning the other negative drawbacks mass migration has on various sectors, such as the fact that the U.K. needs to build nearly 240,000 new homes a year to meet with current demand (one every two minutes). As well as various social difficulties such as integration, and increases in pressure on the NHS.
I believe that if we leave the European Union, the United Kingdom could create a points-based immigration system that welcomes people to Britain who have skills that will benefit the British economy. A figure in the tens of thousands could hopefully be achievable. I would like to see more impetus given towards fixing the Black youth unemployment rate which in the year 2015 stood at 27.5%, and 24.3% amongst Asian youth. Training our young people properly for the job market of the future is vital for the development of our nation. With a decrease in mass immigration and decreasing the demand for various types of jobs, I believe that these figures could decrease.
To conclude, at this stage I acknowledge that EU immigration makes up only a part of immigration into Britain. However pulling out of the European Union and setting up our own laws regarding this issue will take us some way to solving the issues surrounding mass immigration. This is one reason why I believe we should vote leave on June 23rd.
*Sources: Migration Watch UK, House of Commons Library, Telegraph UK, Bank of England, Office of National Statistics, The Migration Observatory, Eurostat, Europarl.