Brexit and immigration are joined at the hip in the popular mind. Just look at some of the regular front pages from newspapers.
Yet, number of recent report have highlighted the need for immigration for the economy. In some sectors such as farming and education the impact could be immense. There are 24,860 members of staff from other EU countries at UK universities, making up 23% of all academics, and already more than 1,300 academics from the EU have left British universities in the past year. (see link) The British Property Federation (BPF) warned that government efforts to address the housing crisis will falter if strict post-Brexit immigration controls result in fewer construction workers coming to the UK. (see link) Also last week both the Global Futures and a report from the Centre for Economic and Business Research found that if the UK cuts off migration without making adjustments to boost productivity, especially productivity in the public sector, the scale of the economic damage could be huge. (see report here) (the Global Futures report is here) The impact in London would be even greater given that 36% of all migrant employees are located in the capital.
The argument is even more worrying if you look at the Government’s manifesto on immigration. The Guardian recently pointed out that the government plan on a Global Britain is fraught with contradictions. It said “global Britain is simply a lie. The government, animated by populist anti-immigration sentiment and blinded by the approaching Brexit headlights, is putting its electoral interests before the interests of the British people, those very interests that it claims to “defend and advance” (read the full article here)
It claims that the government does not dream of reaching out to equals across the globe, but is simply looking to economies it can plunder. Some MP’s call the project, Empire 2, which led the Financial Times and the Washington Post both to write articles arguing that at the centre of the British establishment is a political class who do not know or understand Britain’s own legacy of the empire. Citing a passage in Tony Blair’s autobiography. The Financial Times quoted the former prime minister recording that when the UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, Jiang Zemin, the Chinese president at the time, suggested that Britain and China could now put the past behind them. Mr Blair admits that: “I had, at the time, only a fairly dim and sketchy understanding of what that past was.” (see link here)
There are worrying time ahead.