Question #7 – What can the government do to stop the ‘hordes’ of immigrants?
The Home Secretary said Britain would not be able to extend the ‘transitional arrangements’ to limit the expected influx but Mrs May has vowed to clamp down on ‘pull factors’ to Britain. She told the Andrew Marr programme:
‘There are no further transitional controls that we can put on – the transitional controls end in December 2013…. But that’s where the importance of looking at some of the issues about what it is that is attracting people to come here, in terms of things like our benefits system and access to the health service, is so important.’
This however, effectively labels a large group of people as ‘benefit scroungers’ and ‘health tourists’ despite the fact that studies – including the ‘Unemployment Benefits and Immigration: Evidence from the EU’ – have rejected the ‘welfare-magnet’ hypothesis after finding that immigration within the EU does not correspond to unemployment beneﬁt ‘incentives’. A government report clearly showed that migrants are substantially less likely to claim benefits than the UK-born population.
The vast majority of immigrations come to Britain for work or study. In the year to June 2011 the estimated number of long-term migrants whose main reason for entering the UK was work-related stood at 185,000 whilst the estimated number of long-term migrants whose main reason was formal study was 237,000 in the same year to June.
Thus, to allow Britain to successfully control the amount of EU immigrants after the restriction period ends will take either leaving the EU or negotiation and reform. Leaving the EU however, is often presented by UKIP as an over-simplistic option that does not take into account that nearly half of our trade and half of our foreign investment comes from within the EU; often omitting the many benefits from being within a single market and its importance in terms of British jobs from debates.