The government has published its long awaited white paper on immigration. Key proposals from the paper include:
- Removal of the cap on skilled workers from the EU and the rest of the world;
- Low skilled workers able to apply for short-term visas;
- No limit on international students who win a place in a university here;
- EU visitors will not need visas;
- A consultation on salary requirements.
Whilst some of these measures might be welcome, the way Mrs May seems inclined to sell them – appealing to our baser instincts; the precise opposite of what this site is about – is not.
Brexit is an opportunity to change our immigration system – and our national conversation about immigration. As guest contributor Alastair Thompson discussed on this site recently, favouring EU migrants over others is discriminatory and illogical.
We need a system which is fair and consistent. We also need that system to be entirely in the control of our Parliament: we know the public’s attitudes to immigration soften when they feel they’re in charge of it – it’s less about turning off the tap as having the ability to do so if need be.
We must understand, despite Remain’s protests otherwise, that the UK – with its world-leading economy; modern infrastructure; and reliable legal system – will always be a huge draw for ambitious people from all over the globe, and harness this.
Immigration needs to work positively and fairly for both the immigrant and the host country. We, therefore, need to shape an approach whereby ‘benefits’ – unemployment, child and housing benefit, for example – are available only to citizens but that there is a clear pathway to becoming citizens for immigrants who wish to make the UK their home. For those who plan to be here temporarily, we should be good hosts and they should understand that this decision means they will not have all the rights – nor all the responsibilities – of citizens (no right to vote or serve on a jury, for example).
Crucially, we need to frame our immigration policy around the requirements of a country setting an ambitious example to the world on the advantages of liberal free trade and free markets.
Brexit is our chance to attract the brightest and best from across the globe. They should be welcome here. We need to make it clear they’re welcome here.
Brexit Britain is open for business.
Tim Dawson is the Editor of Britain’s Future. Follow him on twitter: @tim_r_dawson