Would introducing ID cards prevent a stalemate in a new referendum?  

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Polls show that a so-called People’s Vote might leave the UK split down the middle. UCL’s Tessa Buchanan looks at whether majority support for ID cards could help to break any potential stalemate. Are they the “have-cake-and-eat-it” solution as one think tank suggests? 

People rarely change their minds once they are made up and myth-busting doesn’t work. This was the message that struck home from an event where academics from ‘The UK in a Changing Europe’ revealed the latest polling data on how Brexit is perceived by the UK public.

Guess what. Those who believed in the £350m a week figure in 2016 still largely believe it; the majority still over-estimate how many EU migrants live in the UK; and many still link EU immigration with crime, pressure on the NHS and lower wages. Both Remainers and Leavers credit beliefs that tally with their own versions of the truth, which helps to explain why there has been relatively little change in support for Brexit in the last two years.

So if calls are mounting for a People’s Vote, what would prevent any new referendum being a re-run of 2016?

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A confident UK has nothing to fear from free movement of labour

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Migration brings net gains to the UK, and to hamper it would likely be as bad for British nationals as it would be for EU migrants, contends Ian Preston, UCL Professor of Economics and Deputy Research Director of the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM). This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s second guest editor week on openDemocracy.

Freedom of movement is at the core of arguments over Brexit. Not everyone in favour of Brexit is against free movement but polling evidence suggests that concern about immigration is strongly linked to support for EU withdrawal. Among the most common reasons given for voting Leave is the suggestion that it will restore British control over labour migration from European sources. By removing the country from the obligation to honour free movement of workers, it is suggested, it will make it possible to selectively and advantageously discourage immigration of less attractive sorts of workers.

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The EU deal – what does it mean for immigration and benefits?

suitcasesJonathan Portes, Principal Research Fellow at NIESR, and a Senior Fellow of UK in a Changing Europe, takes a closer look at David Cameron’s EU deal, and asks what impact it may have on immigration to the UK, free movement of EU citizens, and the contested issue of access to in work benefits in the UK.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, wrote on 2 February to the members of the Council (EU Heads of Government) setting out his proposals for a “new settlement for the UK within the European Union”. What does the proposal mean for free movement of workers in the EU, immigration to the UK, and our in-work benefit system? My very quick (apologies in advance for any inaccuracies or oversimplifications) are as follows. Continue reading

Cameron – banning milk and cheese

door-green-closed-lockPablo Echenique is one of the five Podemos members elected to the European Parliament in 2014, and currently running for parliament in the upcoming Spanish general election. On Monday 26 October, he was scheduled to talk at the UCL European Institute, however the event had to be cancelled when he ran into difficulties at the UK Border. Here, he explains the full story…

Imagine a government that pursues the following reasoning: approximately 5% of the population suffer from lactose intolerance and some of them don’t know it. If you eat some cheese or drink some milk and you are one of these few people, you may become ill. Solution: completely ban the production and sale of milk and cheese or at least make it absurdly difficult, long and expensive. There you go. Problem solved!

Seems stupid? Well, tell that to David Cameron. This is exactly what his government has done regarding travelling to the UK for thousands of millions of people. Continue reading

Free movement, welfare tourism and refugees

planeIan Preston, Deputy Director of CReAM and Professor of Economics at UCL, puts forward the case for freedom of movement within the European Union. He explains how freedom of movement and economic migration is important for a dynamic and innovative economy, but it also brings with it redistributive considerations that cannot be ignored. At a time when many politicians conflate economic migration and asylum-seeking refugees, he argues that the two are perhaps not entirely distinct from one another – and discusses reasons why they shouldn’t be treated as one group.

Some economic advantages of free movement of labour

Free movement of labour, in the sense of absence of restriction on European citizens’ rights of location for the purpose of work, has been a longstanding goal of the European Union. But this goal has come under increasing attack, from a variety of directions. Critics include not only those hostile to European Union membership but also some who are professedly sympathetic to membership but who appear sceptical about the benefits or long term viability of unrestricted cross-border mobility of people in modern Europe.

Judged in economic terms, the case for free movement of labour, within or between countries, is strong since mobility of workers has compellingly positive aspects. Continue reading