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Why the Conservative immigration policy is not workable

Written by Comment, Current Affairs

Hot on the heels of “strong and stable”, the Tories have described the new immigration system proposed in their manifesto as “firmer and fairer”.

This is at least half right, in that it’s hard to deny it’s firmer: the immigration reforms will usher in an “Australian-style points-based… system”. Skilled workers and those able to make the heftiest contributions to the UK economy will be given priority, and there is also a promise to reduce “overall numbers” of immigrants, especially lower skilled ones.

The Conservative manifesto was launched on 24 November
Image: Conservatives on Instagram

While attractive to those on the right, immigration reform that gives priority to net economic contributors assumes that our current system doesn’t already. An estimate from the OECD – an organisation of mostly rich countries established to promote trade and economic growth – posits that immigration contributed 0.46% to UK GDP from 2007-09, a boost higher than the ones observed over the same time span in Germany, France and – tellingly – Australia. While migration did have a negative impact on the economy for some years for which statistics are available, the dent in GDP was always below 1%.

Thinkers on the right also disagree with the policy

In a bizarre turn of events, this is an issue that bastions of both left and right thinking are agreed on. Higher-ups at the CBI – which lobbies for small-c conservative pro-market policies – have joined liberal thinkers in expressing concern over the proposed reforms. The organisation’s Director-General rubbished the idea that the policy will “attract the best and brightest”, as the Tories are claiming, saying that “When we hear talk about the ‘brightest and best’, I think that is a worry… If you do want to build 200 000 houses a year [in 2015, the Tories pledged to build 200 000 homes by 2020], you don’t just need the architects and the designers, you need the carpenters, you need the electricians, you need the labourers… It’s not just brightest and best, it’s people at all skill levels across our economy that we need”.

The words ‘Australian-style points system’ have been bandied about the UK political arena for years: now is the time to consider what they actually mean.

For Alex Dunn’s defence of the immigration policy, click here: http://www.thecourieronline.co.uk/why-the-conservative-immigration-policy-may-be-workable/

Last modified: 28th November 2019

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