Three BIG new unlimited waves of immigration are set to take effect in just weeks as part of the government’s Border Control Betrayal.
It comes after years of broken manifesto pledges to control and reduce immigration on the part of successive Conservative governments, and even after illegal Channel crossings have reached peak after peak in recent months despite clear and unambiguous promises that they would be stopped.
Ironically, the new uncapped streams of immigration are part of a ‘plan’ which the government sold to voters as enabling a ‘reduction’ in the overall number of people coming to the UK from overseas.
- Uncapped global workers – loosening rules for those in 80% of the world’s countries even as joblessness rises in the midst of Covid.
- A re-opening of Labour’s failed work route for tens of thousands of non-UK students, including into the lowest-paid jobs even as UK youth unemployment shoots up.
- A potential mass movement of people from Hong Kong – which could see up to one million people take up a new UK citizenship offer, and half a million IN JUST ONE YEAR.
This doesn’t include illegal Channel arrivals (10,000 since 2018 started – see our Tracker), nor does it include illegal lorry drops (numbering in the thousands in 2019) – both worsened by a shameful hollowing out of enforcement and borders that staff say are ‘resourced to fail’.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown would be so proud of Boris Johnson for re-enacting so many of their failed policies after governments since 2010 spent years of trying to clean up the mess.
In fact, a study by an official committee found that 160,000 British workers had been displaced by immigration between 1995 and 2010 and that there was a greater risk of this happening during a downturn.
Displacement is when workers lose their jobs to those from overseas who will often work for lower wages.
The report found that for every 100 more non-UK workers, 23 Brits lost out.
Like Boris Johnson, New Labour promised a similar system in 2005 and allowed immigration to let rip with no limits.
Now the government has Blair-style plans for a major weakening of immigration controls with respect to the globe that would allow a profit bonanza for big business at the expense of UK workers. What are they thinking?
By giving employers ‘greater scope’ to recruit from around the world (often at the expense of Brits) the plan looks set to drive an increase in non-EU numbers which in 2019 were already at an all-time record high (see Home Office Impact Assessment).
This prospect will not be welcome to around 30 million people in the UK (a clear majority) who want immigration to be more tightly controlled (see our paper on public opinion and immigration).
The government still say they aim is to get overall numbers down.
Yet this looks implausible as a host of new avenues into Britain are to be opened up, including:
- An expanded route for workers from all over the world (which the Home Office believes could lead to between 15,000 and 50,000 more non-EU workers – as well as dependants – per year), with a central estimate of 30,000 [The Home Office has pointed to significant limitations in these estimates and they should be treated with caution]. This is likely to be somewhat offset by a possible further fall in net EU work migration over the first four years (although they note inflows are likely to fall even in the absence of these policies being enacted).
- A new graduate route for students to stay on and work for two years – with many if not most going into unskilled roles (the Home Office says this could drive a net rise in student immigration running into the thousands each year). A Home Office impact assessment said that this could lead to an estimated increase of 35,000 – 40,000 additional non-EU students per year on average over the first five years (see p.44 of link).
- A new route to study and work and gain citizenship for up to three million people from Hong Kong. It is far from certain that all would come, yet this reckless policy makes the UK a hostage to events. According to the government’s own assessment, as many as one million Hong Kongers could take up the offer – with up to 500,000 arriving in the UK just in the first year. However, the scope will also be open for those from Hong Kong who do not qualify as British Nationals (Overseas) to visit the UK and claim asylum while here.
- Possible expansion of the youth mobility scheme for those aged 18-30 from the EU to work in jobs at any skill level for up to two years (dependent on the Brexit negotiations). See Telegraph, Feb. 2020.
- A representative from an immigration NGO suggests the illegal Channel route is now ‘established’ for all time. This must not be allowed to happen. 10,000 people arrived illegally via this risky route (from safe countries) since the start of 2018. The route must be closed.
A recent damning report by the independent immigration watchdog slammed the government for its failure to get a grip on illegal arrivals by lorry and small boats. This has been allowed largely by a deliberate hollowing out of the immigration enforcement arm, which took off in earnest in 2018.
It is also clear that the Covid-19 crisis will lead to a very high level of unemployment. The number of Britons claiming unemployment benefits soared to the highest level since 1996 in April.
However, the new immigration plan astonishingly raises the risk of the mass displacement of UK workers when they are already very vulnerable. Yet the increasing reluctance of the government and media to acknowledge this reality will make monitoring it all the more difficult.
Ministers and MPs must also remember that, following the 2008 financial crisis, it took six years for the number of UK-born workers to regain its pre-crash level, while the number of workers born abroad increased by more than a million as employers sought out cheaper labour.
The government must amend their plan in order to:
(a) have in readiness powers to impose a cap on work permits. This must be capable of being done at very short notice as the courts would rule that all applications in the pipeline should be decided under the previous rules.
(b) postpone indefinitely the “new entrant” route that gives employers the simplest work-around to avoid meeting headline salary thresholds.
(c) retain the long-standing requirement that jobs first be advertised in the UK. This is a vital safeguard for jobseekers that will be especially important during a period of high unemployment. Employers must do all they can to take on workers already in the UK.
d) Maintain the general salary threshold for high-skill workers at the level of £30,000 and the qualification criterion at the present degree level.
The government states in their impact analysis that [the changes] ‘will provide employers with greater scope to employ skilled migrants from overseas‘. Why on earth would Ministers contemplate this during a massive economic crisis?
Whether the rise in non-EU numbers would be offset sufficiently by a fall in EU workers is questionable given that EU numbers have already dropped considerably following the Brexit referendum and, as was revealed by ONS statistics released recently, during the Covid pandemic.
Conversely, the much greater incentive for hundreds of millions within a much-expanded potential pool of migrant workers from much poorer and much larger developing non-EU countries may mean numbers rising much faster than Ministers anticipate.
The government also wants to abolish a rule that requires employers to advertise jobs to local workers in the UK prior to attempting to fill them from overseas.
This despite the fact that the official expert committee on migration said very clearly that this rule ‘helps prevent any short-term displacement of the UK workforce‘.
At a time of rising unemployment, it is vital that this ‘First Chance Rule’ is not scrapped (see our piece on this topic).
These proposals were always seriously mistaken but have now been completely overtaken by the developing economic crisis.
This is absolutely not the time to be opening up seven million full-time jobs held by UK-born workers to new or increased global recruitment (see our piece regarding this calculation).