The UK government’s plans to curb immigration were cast into doubt after a Migration Watch report estimated that European Union (EU) Net Migration will overtake that from the rest of the world. The figures are important because the government has no powers to control the numbers coming from within the EU, and therefore the immigration cap only applies to the rest of the world.
Over half a million EU migrants are expected to flock to the UK in the next five years, which is more than the population of the City of Manchester. However the immigration from the rest of the world has fallen from 217,000 a year to 130,000 and this figures drops further when you take into account the 70,000 Brits who leave the EU every year.
This will be the first time EU migration overtakes the rest of the world. Migration Watch suggest the solution might be to adopt policies to restrict benefits to those who come to the country. At present EU nationals can claim things like Child Benefit immediately on their arrival.
Both the Conservatives and UKIP have proposed major reductions in these benefit schemes, not least the ones paid to dependants who do not reside in the UK.The report shows that whilst government policy has reduced immigration from the rest of the world.
This is being made up for by a continued flow of mostly unskilled Eastern Europeans, from countries like Poland.
Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK said “The good news is that immigration from outside the EU is coming down steadily as the government have promised.
“The bad news is that migrants from the EU have driven the policy off course. It was crazy to have opened up our labour market and our benefit system to one hundred million people from countries with a standard of living less than a quarter of our own. There must now be a determined renegotiation”.
The news is likely to be seized upon by Nigel Farage MEP in his debate tonight over Britain’s future in the European Union. His party is riding high in the polls for promising to leave the EU and significantly cut immigration.
However, these immigration caps are not universally popular on the right of British politics as they make it harder for business people from places like the United States of America and Canada to relocate. The perceived result is that better educated migrant workers from English speaking nations, are kept out. Only to see the space taken up by unskilled workers who cannot speak English.
Although a cap on EU workers has been proposed it would require a treaty change in Brussels, a move strongly opposed by almost every country other than Britain.
The immigration problem is exacerbated because most migrants only come to Britain in order to settle in London.