Migration, border security and the EU referendum

The Leave caBrexit-migrationmpaign argues Brexit would give Britain back its control over immigration. Even if that were true, the current situation suggests control best comes through cooperation, says Conservative MP Damian Green. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

Migration is one of the most emotive topics in the debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union. For those who favour leaving, the UK’s membership has become synonymous with uncontrolled migration. They believe that only by leaving the EU would the UK be able to restore control over its borders and reduce migration. As a result immigration is assumed to be one of the stronger cards held by the Leave camp. I think their analysis is simplistic and wrong, and that the weight of the argument for those worried about levels of immigration is in favour of remaining in the EU and using it to increase our ability to cope with immigration. Continue reading

Who will offer a winning vision of immigration after the referendum?

immigrationSteven Ballinger, Director of Communications for British Future, says Brexit campaigners have yet to offer credible visions on immigration that address voters concerns while also acknowledging certain realities. Whichever side does so will greatly improve their chances in June. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

Immigration is not the only issue in the EU referendum – it is not even the top issue for most voters, according to ICM research for British Future’s recent publication How (not) to talk about Europe. But it is still probably fair to say that the main reason we are having a referendum on Britain’s EU membership is, in a word, immigration. The issue remains more salient and more important to the public than the EU itself. Ask most people to describe how the EU affects them and the issues of free movement and immigration are those most likely to come up. Continue reading

There’s no love for the EU or immigration, but voters must ask ‘what are the alternatives?’

Free movotersvement 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%.

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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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EU freedom of movement and Brexit

fkwiatkowski/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)Sofia Vasilopoulou, lecturer in Politics at the University of York, says EU migration could be the make or break issue of the Brexit campaigns. Both sides understand this, but how will they approach the topic? This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s first guest editor week on openDemocracy.

Britain goes to the polls on 23 June to decide whether the country will remain in the European Union (EU) or exit it. Sixty-eight polls between 3 September 2015 and 3 March 2016 have shown that there is no clear winning camp. Public opinion has been constantly fluctuating, and the number of those responding with ‘I don’t know’ has been as high as 24%. In the context of such high levels of uncertainty among the British public about their vote choice, campaign frames will be very powerful tools for influencing vote choice. Continue reading