UK could have Australian-style immigration system according to Leave campaigners.

What’s the story?

Prominent anti-EU campaigners say they want to introduce a points-based immigration system in the UK to limit those coming to the UK to skilled workers in shortage occupations, claiming current levels of migration are lowering wages and straining public services. Read the story in the BBC.

How reliable is this story?

Questionable. Firstly, there’s no guarantee that we could introduce a points-based system– if, as many Leave campaigners say, we should seek to maintain full access to the EU single market, we’d have to keep free movement of workers. Secondly, EU immigrants aren’t the problem– they currently make up less than half of total migration to the UK and all the evidence shows they have no significant impact on either employment rates or wage levels. Finally, EU immigrants actually support our public services and pay more in taxes than they take as benefits and services.

What’s the background?

  • Anti-EU campaigners claim we can introduce the points based immigration system that we currently apply to non-EU countries if we choose to leave the EU. Evidence
  • However, if we want to retain free movement of goods and services within the EU single market, we will have to accept free movement of people too. Evidence
  • Australia, the country which first introduced a points-based system, currently has twice as many immigrants per capita as the UK. Evidence
  • Despite having a points based system for non-EU immigrants, numbers entering the UK have always been higher than those from the EU. Evidence
  • There is no correlation between EU immigration levels and wages decreasing — the primary reason for wages falling is a weak recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. Evidence
  • Furthermore, EU immigrants have a positive impact on our public services, both as workers and taxpayers– in the 2013/4 tax year, European migrants made a net contribution of £2.5 billion to the UK. Evidence
  • Finally, leaving the EU would make it harder to control our border when it comes to non-EU migrants. Evidence

This Behind the Headlines briefing was first published on the Doorstep EU app:

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