Voters often confuse internal and external EU migration, mistakenly assuming that a Brexit would better prevent non-EU nationals from ‘sneaking in’. Hugo Dixon, Chairman and Editor-in-chief of InFacts.org, thinks it won’t. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s second guest editor week on openDemocracy.
The Treaty of Rome, which set up the forerunner to the EU, enshrined what are known as the ‘four freedoms’: free movement of goods, services, capital and people. This is one of the most important charters for freedom the world has ever seen. In Britain, there is little controversy over the first three freedoms. But free movement of people is the subject of heated debate. If Britain ultimately votes to quit the EU, a desire to curb immigration will probably be the main reason.
Free movement is part and parcel of continued access to European markets. Stephen Booth, co-director of Open Europe asks if it is worth sacrificing the latter to reduce the former? This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s second guest editor week on openDemocracy.
Given the recent political history of immigration in Britain, is it surprising that the issue now tops the political agenda and that public trust in politicians on this issue is so low? Throughout the 2000s, with looser policies on non-EU migration and EU enlargement to eastern Europe taking effect, net immigration to the UK increased from the tens of thousands to well over 200,000 a year. According to Ipsos-Mori’s issues tracker, just 10% of the British electorate considered immigration to be the most important issue facing the country in the late 1990s. By the mid-2000s, the share of people saying it was the most important issue steadily increased to 40%, and by May 2015 it reached 50%.