So often now, you hear politicians utter those infuriating words, “addressing people’s concerns about immigration” without any thought as to their actual effect. It seems to me that so rarely are these “genuine concerns” backed up by educated opinion, that it is tantamount to an excuse for xenophobia.
When, in History, has popular public opinion ever been “concerned” about immigration in times of economic success? Do the public ever go out of their way in “boom years” to demand that politicians address their “genuine concerns” about immigration?
Of course not, because it is a reflex reaction of the most rudimentary kind to blame immigrants for a problem at any point in History. It makes not a shred of difference to this knee jerk reaction that UCL found in 2014 that EU migrants contribute an annual average of £20 billion per year more into the UK tax system than they take out of it.
My official position on immigration in recent years has been this: that the present day is the wrong time to discuss the issue of immigration because economic disparity places us at an approximately equal logical disparity- we are too emotionally involved. But now, with the far right being so stringent that they can influence government to demand that companies draw up lists of foreign workers, I feel I have to step forward and oppose this ultimate stupidity.
Pandering to the far right has never been in our interests and- so far from mitigating damage, often increases the impact and reach of people who can only be described as fanatical. Look at our current situation: Donald Trump with his hand on the nuclear button, and members of the new American government describing Michelle Obama as an “ape”! An 89% increase in hate crimes in the US. And the British public is fast heading that way.
I do not believe for a moment that the average person who considers him/herself “concerned about immigration” is actually a racist or even terribly xenophobic, but very slowly, the media is pushing the British public in that direction.
A certain newspaper named the Daily Mail is particularly responsible for the rise in nationalistic fervour which borders on the xenophobic in this post-Brexit climate. The newspaper in question almost satirized itself a few weeks ago by stating as a headline “ANARCHISTS FLY MIGRANT IN ON RYANAIR”, as though stating that anyone who lets a foreigner into the UK (just the one, as well) desires that Britain should descend into anarchy: that the very government of the United Kingdom would fall, if Pedro the European migrant were to make it past border controls.
It’s all too easy to mock these bizarre beliefs, but they must also be countered and exposed for the lies that they are. A rational truth which still not everyone believes about the Brexit issue is that it never had anything to do with immigration.
Here is a brutal truth for the Anti-immigration Brexiteer lobby among you: you’ve been tricked. Reducing the number of immigrants coming into the UK was simply never an option in the European referendum.
Inside the European Union, as you know, we would have had free movement of peoples- not to be confused with being borderless, as the Schengen countries are. Outside the EU, however, there remains three basic options open to us: the EFTA model (Switzerland model), the EEA model (the Icelandic and Norwegian model), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) model.
The EFTA and EEA models work on the principle of abiding by European Union regulations in their majority- essentially, free movement is almost a given if we want to adopt either of these two models.
But, I hear the leave campaigners triumphantly blurt, the WTO model means that we can control our own borders, and Theresa May has chosen a hard Brexit that will allow us to do this!
And this is true- to a limited degree. Theresa May has given the go ahead for a Hard Brexit.
But Hard Brexit may not give off quite the result you were hoping for: the most popular alternative system among people who know almost nothing about immigration beyond the fact that they are opposed to it, is the Australian points based style system.
The PBS has always been seen as the most popular, and indeed, the only other popular alternative to free movement- probably because of its supposedly meritocratic nature. It seems to float the far right boat (or rather, sink the refugee’s dingy, which seems to be an even more arousing concept to the far right) to bring up the PBS system in every single debate on this issue.
However, quell your excitement at the thought of stopping those anarchists bringing their foreign friend Fernando into the UK: it is not about to reduce the numbers of people coming into the UK.
Conservative peer Lord Green did a study in 2011 looking into the nature of the Points Based System in Australia and it’s applicability to modern day Britain, and concluded that the PBS would actually make immigration three times higher than it would be in a system of free movement.
A likely explanation for this is that the Australian system, from a teleological point of view, is remarkably different from our own: to state that this is a system that can be applied to British immigration is simply failing to appreciate how different the two systems are. They are as different in their goals as Boris Johnson’s faces before and after the referendum.
The basic point, however, remains: even if you felt that immigration was undesirable for the UK, the move for Brexit has done nothing to help your situation. Far from reducing the number of people migrating into the UK, you may well have just unwittingly voted to increase it. The leave campaigners sold you a Styrofoam woggle made of reinforced steel, and you jumped into the water without question, and carried your misguided views right to the bottom of the water with you.
Immigration is a fact of the modern world- an occurrence as natural as the weather. The only sensible response is to reinforce our system to manage it: just as one would reinforce a building against Tornadoes and Earthquakes depending upon their region of residency. The tax system should always be adaptable: in theory, the more people the tax system gets in, the more it grows with each contribution, and so it is expanded to accommodate more and more people. It should, in other words, be self-sustaining.
People who insist that we cannot take anymore immigrants- or indeed, refugees- and ask us to address their “genuine concerns” about immigration, are the madmen lurching towards the tornado and endeavouring to drive it away from their house by sucking it up with a cordless hoover.