EU exit could cut immigration by 100,000
A recent report by Migration Watch UK has suggested that Britain could cut immigration by 100,000 should it leave the EU through the restricting of EU nationals working rights in the UK. However, head of Britain Stronger in Europe accused the report by the anti-Europe watchdog as “disingenuous”.
The report further details how a ‘Brexit’ would effect immigration levels and expects that the numbers would reduce substantially. It is thought that if the UK were to leave the EU a skilled work visa system, similar to the current one that is applied to non-EEA nationals, would be implemented.
The report follows an intense 12 months where immigration has dominated headlines both within Britain and the wider continent as a whole. Shocking images of refugees from Northern Africa and the Middle East have provoked strong reactions at home and abroad. Opinions are strongly divided as to how to deal with the migrants and, after public pressure, the UK government agreed to accept more. However, others have criticised the government and fear that refugees would place added pressure on social infrastructure such as housing, education and healthcare.
Pressure is mounting on the government to reduce migration figures as record level net migration continued to grow. The government’s target of reducing net migration to the 10,000s looks a distant dream as the real figure is currently 336,000 and rising. The report outlines that an exit could reduce the number of EU migrants arriving from 180,000 to 65,000.
In a bid to reduce migration figures the Government has increasingly introduced harder measures for non-EEA nationals to come to the UK. Across most visa categories, be they for work, study or marriage, salary thresholds, language tests and additional requirements have been introduced. Critics have labelled the measures as restrictive and, in the case of the latest work related restrictions, potentially harmful to the UK economy.
The report focused mainly on discussing the changes to EU nationals looking to work within the UK after it claims that between 2004 – 2014 only 1 in 5 migrants undertook skilled work. The proposals only concern restricting EU national’s working rights in the UK and do not suggest creating visas for study or visiting the country. Those who would enter the UK as self-sufficient and looking for work would be given entry.
As the EU referendum beckons what remains clear is that immigration is likely to be a main topic of the debate. It is thought that, whilst the Pm wanted the referendum in 2017, that is looks probable to be conducted before the end of 2016.
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