For many years in the UK political parties, the media, and the general public have debated the issue of immigration. Arriving at a general consensus that this is not in fact racism, and is actually about demands on public services, and those who seek to take advantage of our accommodating welfare services.
Prime Minister David Cameron has faced continued opposition from German Chancellor Angela Merkel in recent months, in which she highlighted the ‘freedom of movement’ of EU citizens. Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the Treaty enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and developed by the EU secondary legislation and the case law of the Court of Justice.
This includes and is not limited to, EU citizens being able to look for a job in any EU country, to work without a permit, to stay after the employment has finished, and to have the same equal rights as all others.
Far from being a catastrophe, the report ‘The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK’ by the Royal Economic Society, published in the Economic Journal, found that migrants add £5 billion to the UK economy, that was £4.6 billion in taxes, than they took out in public services. These findings were apparently lost on the campaign group Migration Watch who criticised the ‘selective use of dates’ in corroborating their findings.
The Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, commented recently, that ‘the real magnet is not the city of Calais, but the benefits that are perceived in Great Britain’ and that migrants found the British benefits system ‘far too attractive’.
This issue too has been addressed, with the Home Secretary Theresa May recently announcing that migrants can not claim immediately on arrival to the UK. She also cited the buoyant UK economy, compared to other EU member states, as another causal factor, which should reassure many.
With many people unlikely to be directly effected by immigration, it’s hard not to take the view that underlying racism is somewhere at the heart of this issue, with 1 in 3 admitting to being racist in a Daily Mail report in 2012.
The previous Labour government dropped the ball on immigration, creating the current situation we have today. This has produced fertile ground for the likes of UKIP, who have flourished in recent years, taking full advantage of the general malaise in certain sections of the population. Despite possibly a media campaign against UKIP, and their affable and engaging leader, Nigel Farage, I’m not sure a vote for UKIP is the answer, or what the this country needs at this time.
Nor is leaving the European Union, with The Telegraph publishing an article that non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland have even higher immigration levels than Britain.
At the end of the day, the majority of EU citizens who choose to come to the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, are simply looking for a new life, a better life, for themselves and their dependents. The UK has always been seen as a world leader as far as being altruistic in its outlook, and we really shouldn’t change.
I would also take the view that the UK should remain part of the EU. Better Together was the successful campaign to encourage Scots to vote No to Scottish independence. Maybe it would be in our best interests to follow suit.