I haven’t said much about immigration in the EU debate. I haven’t needed to: last week’s statistics, the second highest on record, speak for themselves. Constituents constantly express the view to me that the UK is already full, with housing and public services under considerable pressure.
The Government was successful at cutting quite dramatically the numbers of non EU immigrants during the lifetime of the last parliament, but nevertheless did not come anywhere near meeting its manifesto commitment to cut the total numbers to just tens of thousands. This cannot be achieved unless we have some control over EU migration, and we don’t have any at all. That is why the Prime Minister made such a big deal about seeking such control in his effort to re-negotiate our membership terms.
He came back virtually empty handed. What he got was not control of migrant numbers, but rather the possibility of some temporary reduction in their benefit entitlements described as an ‘emergency brake’. The PM believes that the prospect of reduced benefit entitlement will, in turn, reduce the desire of EU migrants to move to the UK. I just don’t believe it. They come here for jobs not for benefits. Europe is in a semi-permanent self-inflicted recession caused by its disastrous experiment with a single currency. Britain has been booming. The imperative to move to the UK to get a job is not going to diminish.
What is particularly insulting about the so called emergency brake, is that it is not under UK control. It will be operated by the EU Commission (and this was when they were attempting to persuade us to remain…just wait till they have us in the bag!)