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

Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums and the UK debate

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As the Brexit campaigns are heating up in preparation for the 23 June referendum, Ece Özlem Atikcan and Claudia Sternberg launch a new project to examine how referendum campaigns and the wider public debates around them influence how we think and vote. This whole week they are guest editing a series of articles on openDemocracy on the UK debate and campaigns around Brexit. A second guest week, from 21-25 March, will focus on issues of migration as a key point of controversy and opinion shaper in the Brexit debate.

On 23 June the British people will make an existential choice by deciding whether or not Britain will remain a member of the European Union. From now until then, everyone from campaigners, politicians, and representatives of business, trade unions, and higher education to journalists, commentators, and opinion shapers will all present different interpretations of the choice at hand. In this guest week we want to not only raise awareness but offer critical analysis of this contest.

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A Europe obsessed by its borders: The political meaning of senseless migration policies

fenceIn recent weeks, Europe’s borders, and the individuals trying to cross them, have rarely been out of the news. Whilst EU member states are struggling to reach agreement on how to deal with the crisis, thousands are moving across Europe in search of asylum. Denis Duez, Director of the European Studies Institute at the Université Saint-Louis in Brussels, reflects on how political borders are created, and points to fundamental flaws in a migration policy that operates chiefly through border controls.

This is a revised version of an article that appeared in French in La Revue Nouvelle, June-July 2014

In his autobiography published in 1942, Stefan Zweig wrote that ‘perhaps nothing more graphically illustrates the monstrous relapse the world suffered after the First World War than the restriction on personal freedom of movement and civil rights. Before 1914, [there were] no permits, no visas, nothing to give you trouble; the borders that today […] are a tangled fence of red tape were then nothing but symbolic lines on the map, and you crossed them as unthinkingly as you can cross the meridian in Greenwich’ (Zweig, The World of Yesterday (trans. Anthea Bell) p.436). Continue reading