Reductions in post-Brexit immigration to be 'vanishingly thin'

Employers' needs for workers from the continent mean that ending the free movement of people when Britain leaves the European Union will have little effect on net migration to the UK, according to a new think-tank report.

Reductions in post-Brexit immigration 'vanishingly thin'
The study by Global Future estimates that, even with tight, post-Brexit controls on EU immigration, only 50,000 would be shaved off the current net migration total of 335,000 a year – considerably below the government's annual target of getting the figure below 100,000.Arriving EU citizens contribute 189,000 to the net migration figure and UK industry bodies have repeatedly warned that their businesses would suffer if they were denied access to this labour.

Professionals are exempt

Global Future says that professionals are likely to be exempted from new migration controls and that about 45,000 a year will still be allowed to enter the country. But it adds that the European flow of EU skilled and unskilled workers “cannot be turned off completely either” and believes some 80,000 workers will still need to be given permission to work in the country after Brexit.The report also says that new controls on European migrants could lead to employers looking at hiring more non-EU migrants – particularly on the back of new trade deals – and that, when students and dependants joining family members in the UK are removed from the figures, the potential for reducing net migration becomes “vanishingly thin”.Gurnek Bains, director of Global Future, said, “There has been considerable debate about the consequences of leaving the single market but very little about whether ending freedom of movement will have anything like the impact many people desire.

Very small reduction in net migration

“People do need to ask whether a reduction in net migration of less than one-sixth – and potentially nothing at all – is worth a long period of huge economic uncertainty, the collapse of the pound, reductions in inward investment, the loss of British citizens’ rights in the EU and the potential break-up of the UK.“Our report today shows that, when all the different factors are taken into account, the potential reductions in net migration become vanishingly thin. And, although ending freedom of movement is psychologically appealing to those who want a sense of control of our borders, the reality is such a move would create only the illusion of control.”
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Pat McFadden, Labour's former business minister, said, “We will be moving to a new system when we leave the EU, but the report shows we will still need significant immigration from both inside and outside the EU in the future. It is important to be honest with the public about this.”Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat leader, added, “The cost to the UK economy of being excluded from the world's largest single market has been put as high as £200 billion over 15 years. And yet, as today's important report from Global Future shows, in return for this self-inflicted wound it is unlikely that the Conservative Brexit government will be able to deliver its promise of dramatically reduced immigration. So what is the point of the government's hard Brexit and its wilful determination to leave the single market?”For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory   now to our Global Mobility Toolkit

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