‘No Brexit curbs on skilled EU migrants’ say most Britons

Where does the British public stand on skilled migrants moving to the UK from the EU? A new poll released by think-tank, British Future, examines the opinions of both Leave and Remain voters.

Britons support skilled migrants from EU
More than 80 per cent of Britons who voted to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum are in favour of the level of skilled migration from the continent staying the same or even increasing after Brexit, according to a poll.

British public support high-skilled EU migration

Research by the think-tank British Future found that among both Leave and Remain voters, concerns over migration from the EU centred on the number of unskilled, not skilled, workers arriving in the UK.A poll of 3,600 voters across the political spectrum, conducted by ICM for the think-tank, found that 86 per cent wanted high-skilled EU migration to stay at the same level as now or increase after Brexit. “Strikingly,” said British Future, “82 per cent of Leave voters would be happy for high-skilled migration to stay the same or increase.“The public would, however, prefer reductions in low-skilled immigration: 64 per cent of the public, including 50 per cent of Remain voters, say they would like low-skilled EU immigration numbers reduced, with 36 per cent happy for them stay the same or increase.“There is clear public support, across political and referendum divides, for an immigration system that combines the UK control demanded in the referendum with the openness to skilled migration that our economy will continue to need, which most people would welcome.”
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Even among the majority who want curbs on low-skilled migration, there were marked allowances being made for certain jobs. About three-quarters of respondents, for example, did not want to reduce the number of arriving EU care workers and there were majorities in favour of the total of construction workers, waiters and fruit-pickers staying the same or increasing.Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said, “A new post-Brexit immigration system that differentiates between skilled and low-skilled EU immigration sounds like common sense to most people.“They can see that we need doctors, engineers and other professionals but they want more control over low-skilled immigration. Even there, the public knows we need people to pick the fruit and veg, build more houses and care for the elderly.”

Public expect future immigration system to find balance

The report, ‘Time to Get it Right: Finding Consensus on Britain’s Future Immigration Policy’, says the government’s top priority must be to decide on a new, fit-for-purpose system for immigration that can secure the support of the public, business and politicians.“Our proposal – for a system that asserts UK control over low-skilled migration from the EU with an annual cap, while remaining as open as before to migrants above a set skills or salary level – would meet with support from two-thirds of the public while ensuring that employers could still fill skills and staffing gaps.“The report also says the government must respond to concerns about the impacts of immigration in areas where the pace of change is fastest, “for example on public services and housing, by directing resources to those areas via a better-resourced Controlling Immigration Fund.”British Future added, “Thirdly, and crucially, the government should do more to engage the public in decision-making on immigration. The National Conversation Immigration, coordinated by British Future and Hope not Hate, offers a model of how to do this, hosting 120 meetings in 60 locations in every nation and region of the UK, and reporting its findings to the Home Affairs Committee Immigration Inquiry.”
Read David Sapsted's article on Establishing Right to Remain – which discusses the uncertainty over immigration which the UK faces following Brexit – in the Summer 2017 issue of Relocate Magazine.
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