Some plain truths about immigration

It appears that many people in the UK are concerned about immigration. It’s interesting to note that had fewer people come to the UK over the centuries, many people currently living just wouldn’t exist! Have a watch here: to get an idea.

So what’s the problem with immigrants? The majority of them are in one of two flavours:

  • they come to the UK to do work that UK citizens generally don’t want to do. It’s often low-paid and seasonal, and many of them return home when the season is over
  • they’re well-qualified and seek the opportunities the UK offers in terms of pay and conditions, quality of life etc.. They’ll become long-term residents, making a valuable contribution to the life of the UK and the Treasury (paying their taxes). Some of these are Erasmus students who come over and stay, for example.

What’s not to like? Better for the UK to have them than a mass of older non-working Brits (like me!) coming back. They would put further strain on the NHS, demand their bus passes, Senior Citizen’s Railcard, “disabled” parking spaces etc., as well as having problems with housing because they can no longer afford to buy a property in the prosperous UK.

The UK already has an ageing population, which means there are progressively fewer people paying tax and more claiming pensions. This affects the UK’s finances, why do you think the government is pushing the retirement age upwards?

The UK really needs those young pay-earning people from elsewhere, and it needs people like me like a hole in the head!

And please don’t let people lie to you about control of our borders. The UK’s not in Schengen right now, so the material change after a Brexit would be our European neighbours worrying a lot less about who wanted to come to the UK, because at least they’d be getting rid of them. If anything, it would make any problems worse and more difficult to deal with.

As things stand at present, non-UK EU citizens can enter the UK to seek work, provided they can support themselves, but if they don’t find it within 6 months they can be obliged to leave. Seems OK to me.

It’s been suggested that in future, preference should be given to Commonwealth immigrants – but isn’t this just swapping one sort of immigration for another?

Back in the middle of the last century, when immigrants were invited to the UK to fill job vacancies, they found notices in many boarding house windows saying “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”. Prejudice and xenophobia – it’s just like today, except the target has changed.

Despite this apparent continuity, is this really what we want the UK to be about?

The richness of our language and our culture has a lot to do with the successive waves of immigrants who’ve sought escape from persecution and/or the chance of a better life in the UK.

Even if you’re not fussed about richness of language and culture –  don’t you appreciate your local Chinese or Indian take-aways and restaurants, the first of which was set up in London centuries ago?

But of course, even if there were to be a Brexit, subsequent arrangements (if they can be concluded) for trade with Europe are very likely to include agreements about freedom of movement, without our having a say about what happens in Brussels.

So what’s the likely result of a Brexit in terms of immigration?

A bunch of very brassed-off European neighbours who won’t give us help in controlling our borders, who’ll demand that there should be continued freedom of movement as part of re-established trade agreements, and who’ll want to demonstrate that leaving the EU causes pain. That’s what.

Undoubted losses and no apparent gains: please beware of people who are trying to sell you this as a good idea for you, your children, your children’s children…

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