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Analysis

Migration switcheroo means less cash to fix Britain

by Luke Lythgoe | 28.02.2019

Migration from the EU continues to tumble and is now at its lowest level since 2009, new ONS figures show. And yet total net migration has hardly shifted since the 2016 referendum. That’s because the falling EU numbers have been offset by a rise in people coming from beyond Europe. When you compare the contribution made to the public purse by EU citizens versus non-EU nationals, this switcheroo could prove a problem.

Net migration from the EU stood at just 57,000 for the year ending September 2018. Compare that to a few months after the Brexit vote, when EU net migration was 165,000. Non-EU net migration was almost identical at the time. Now net migration from outside the EU stands at 261,000.

So while overall net migration levels have barely moved, migration from the rest of the world is now four and a half times higher than from the EU. And this might not be the full extent of the plunge in EU numbers. Immigration expert Jonathan Portes has suggested that, when you compare today’s data with the most recent labour force statistics, it is “very likely that more Europeans are now leaving the UK than are arriving”.

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The headache caused to employers by the fall in EU migration is well rehearsed in the media. The CBI today warned it is “exacerbating labour and skills shortages” across many sectors reliant on European labour. Meanwhile the Institute of Directors is worried that Brexit will end the “flexible and hassle-free access to international skillsets” which EU free movement allows. The government’s post-Brexit immigration plans mean much more red tape for employers.

A problem which gets much less coverage is losing the contribution EU workers make to public purse. The government’s own research spelled this out late last year (see page 22). In 2016/17 EEA nationals (the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) paid in £4.7 billion net to the public finances. In contrast, citizens of countries outside the EEA took out £9 billion net.

The exodus of EU workers is bad news for government coffers, and will also make it harder to bringing our country back together. It means less money to spend on the problems which caused Brexit in the first place: our ailing NHS, housing shortages, under-funded schools and parts of the country feeling left behind.

Make no mistake, it is Brexit that has made the UK unattractive to EU citizens: the falling pound, plans for stricter migration policies and a general sense of unwelcomeness. But it also hasn’t satisfied those Leave voters who wanted to see total migration brought down. It will just make us all poorer. Nobody voted for that, and that’s why the final decision on Brexit should be put back to the people.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

2 Responses to “Migration switcheroo means less cash to fix Britain”

  • Not quite on topic but it occurs to me that if travellers will not need to show a passport or declare dutiable goods as they cross from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland because the technology will be in place to control such movements then why will there still be a need for immigration and customs controls at other ports of entry? I suggest that it is likely that net migration will continue to rise.

  • Why is this a good thing?

    1.) Britain is racist. The more non-EU people move in, the more accustomed British people will be to brown and black skinned people. If there is another brexit or xenophobic vote then in years to come, it’s less likely to pass. Net result will be that Britain will be less racist.

    2.) The demographic which actually voted for Brexit is not going to understand that. However when there’s less Polish or German or Spanish being spoken then they will feel they got their country back. But when they try to get a job, then they will realise the problem isn’t the “outsiders”, it’s their lack of education.

    3.) There is a certain degree of comeuppance which is necessary for the population to learn. British people are just as stupid, moronic, idiotic, etc., as the rest of the world. Being British doesn’t mean that someone is better but rather that they happen to have that passport and so on … Most importantly, lessons learned from a textbook are never going to be as long lasting as lessons learned from experience – we need the British people to experience humility –> we/you ARE NOT better than everyone else.