Brexit: the true facts on EU immigration

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Flickr/MPD01605

In the eyes of those who wish to see Britain escape the tyranny of the EU, and its unforgivable crime of enabling international trade and diplomacy for European states, the hot topic seemingly always rides in upon a wave of xenophobia. This is fuelled largely by unfounded claims over immigration, which this article will seek to dismiss.

They’re ‘clamouring at the gates’?

According to the Get Britain Out campaign, membership of the EU opens up British borders to 450million Europeans.

This ridiculous assertion is a simple manipulation of language, designed to give the impression that the entire population of the EU are just waiting at the border to steal our jobs and reap the treasure at the end of the rainbow – our benefits system.

Current figures estimate that the population of the EU is roughly 503 million. This includes infants, the elderly, the sick, and those who actually want to remain in their home country. So claims that Britain will be overrun by 90% of the EU’s Population is both naïve and laughably arrogant. It requires us to make the assumption that the only place in Europe that Europeans want to live (or at least 90% of Europeans) is Britain.

Yes, technically our borders are open to every EU citizen, but leaping to the conclusion that they’re all clamouring at the gate to get to Middleton, or Rochester, or any other areas with strong anti-immigration support defies rational thought, and such claims only serve to scaremonger.

They Took Our Jobs?

In my previous post on the Brexit I mentioned UKIPs claim that over 100,000 UK born citizens lost out to jobs this decade due to an influx of 700,000 Eastern Europeans.

What I’m struggling to understand is if 700,000 came over, why is it that only 1/7 of them ‘stole’ British jobs? What were the other 600,000 doing? And considering a job is something you get given, how did they ‘steal’ anything? This is one of many instances in which figures spouted by Brexit enthusiasts simply don’t add up.

The actual figure for EU-Born Citizens in the UK labour market is approximately 1.9 million working as both employees and self-employed business owners.

Now I’m not just telling you this to prove that UKIP can’t even scaremonger properly (honestly they’re not even good at being bigots), or to point out that this is 1.9 million hard working taxpayers that contribute to the maintenance of the country, instead of just being the ‘swarms’ of benefit leeching sponges that UKIP portray them as.

No, the reason I’m telling you about this 1.9 million is to show how it is directly proportionate to the estimated total number of UK nationals living in other EU countries, which is between 1.8-2.2 million at present.

We are not being overrun. The scales are actually quite balanced, and the majority of those who have gone to live in other EU states are of young-to-mid working age (25-44), so if ‘they’ took our jobs, then we’ve taken just as many from ‘them’.

Not to mention the 30,000 that are claiming benefits from the countries they’ve now moved to. What I would like to make clear here is that if moving to another country for work is to be seen as a crime, then we’re no more innocent than anyone else.

If the argument is that we need to create more jobs, and the solution is to restrict the free movement to other EU states in which such a high number have been able to find work, then how exactly will this help anything? The more that people shout about ‘job theft’ as a key issue in the Brexit campaign the sillier they look.

But what would Norway do?

Another claim frequently cited by Brexit enthusiasts is that we should emulate the models set forth by existing non-EU states, such as Switzerland and Norway, that are able to maintain trade agreements with the EU. However, both of these states have far higher levels of EU immigration in proportion to their population than the UK, and allow free movement across their borders for EU citizens.

In fact, it is written into their trade agreements with the EU that free movement is a necessity in order to retain access to the single market; tied in with technical barriers to trade, public procurement, agriculture, transport, civil aviation, and research through the use of a ‘guillotine clause’.

In essence, all of these agreements are co-dependant and the violation of one, for example through the imposition of immigration quotas, will result in the termination of the other six.

This is the EU simply showing that they will not allow non-member states to pick and choose which benefits they have access to. And in the unlikely event that Britain was given the opportunity to enforce such restrictions upon an exit, we would still need to keep a liberal policy for labour migration in order to remain competitive outside the EU. It wouldn’t be having your cake and eating it so much as it would be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Put simply, whether you like it or not immigration happens and will very probably continue to happen regardless of whether or not we remain in the EU. If it does not, then our wallets will suffer as much as those who we turn away.

The only factor that will change if we leave is that we will reduce our influence in any future matters and the rest of the world may deem us to be much more xenophobic than previously believed.

 

 

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