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Time is running down on the Brexit clock (399 days and counting!) and the default path seems the only way that will allow a smooth and orderly Brexit in any sort of timeframe that could be construed as reasonable to British voters.
If the UK government chooses to simply photocopy existing EU trade regulations and then change those laws incrementally over a period of years, the UK should rightly expect to be invited by the European Union to continue their mutually beneficial trade relationship.
After all, how could the EU possibly be upset that the UK will voluntarily continue to follow European Union trade regulations in the pre-Brexit period?
However, this implies that until Brexit actually occurs, the UK will be obligated to consult with the EU on every incremental change made on those photocopied laws and regulations from now until the UK officially leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019. It’s not about polite diplomatic behavior, it’s about pragmatic self-interest.
The UK must begin today to re-prove that it intends — in all cases — to be a fair and reliable trading partner with the EU, and other countries are sure to be watching as this process unfolds. No amount of effort can be spared in this regard, because as so goes the UK trading relationship with the EU, so it will go between Britain and every other country in the world, after Brexit.
Trade After Brexit
Once March 29, 2019 has passed and the UK has officially left the European Union there will be no longer be any requirement for lengthy consultations with the EU on changes to British trade laws or regulations far in advance of them coming into effect.
That doesn’t mean that the UK shouldn’t continue to consult with the EU, it means that it doesn’t need to consult with the EU during the entire policy formation period. But once UK policy has been decided, the EU should continue to be the first to know about pending changes due to the bloc’s importance to the British economy.
As above, no effort should be spared in showing the EU every possible courtesy on even the most incremental of trade policy adjustments under consideration in the pre-Brexit timeframe.
And in the post-Brexit timeframe, a high level of communication and consultation must continue to define the relationship between the two sides.
Customs Law After Brexit
Unlike trade, the present customs union will end the day after Brexit which will be a very positive thing for the UK. After Brexit, the UK alone will be fully in charge of who can and can’t enter the country, and it should mount a Herculean effort now to identify and locate every single foreigner in the country, matching them to their home and workplace (or school) address.
Every non-British born resident in the country should be required to pay 100 pounds sterling per year, and also be required to provide their updated home and work/school address as often as it changes, no matter which country they originally hailed from. It’s the 21st century(!) all of this can be done on a UK.gov webform in less than 10 minutes per year.
Especially for those foreigners living in the United Kingdom anytime prior to Brexit day, the UK government should make the entire process as streamlined as possible.
Commonwealth Nations in the post-Brexit Timeframe
As the UK returns to its Commonwealth roots, immigration to the UK should thenceforth be sourced from Commonwealth nations.
Of course, there will always be a number of immigrants from the EU, America, and other countries. But as much as possible, the focus should be on the ‘all for one and one for all’ approach of Commonwealth nations — and one great way to keep that viable is by sourcing 2/3rds of the UK’s immigration requirements from the Commonwealth.
In addition, the UK should continue to spend .7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid — but spend it in Commonwealth nations exclusively.
This means that the British government must find other nations to take over its existing foreign aid commitments in non-Commonwealth nations so that Britain can concentrate on building a better Commonwealth.
Done right, every pound sterling spent in Commonwealth foreign aid should return a minimum of two pounds sterling to the UK, as a rising tide in a finite environment like the Commonwealth will lift all boats, which is quite unlike spending that same amount of foreign aid in the wider world.
One example of how Britain could benefit in the post-Brexit timeframe with a policy that favours Commonwealth nations is that UK universities, colleges and trade schools should see a vast increase in enrollment from the 2 billion citizens of Commonwealth nations.
Time is Tight
Although Brexit once seemed far-off, time is getting a little tight. Much needs to be accomplished in the remaining 399 days until Brexit.
The best way to do that is to harmonize UK trade law with EU trade law and then make incremental changes over time. That’s how not to lose.
How to win is to engage with Commonwealth nations as never before in ways that work to benefit both the United Kingdom and every Commonwealth member nation.
Keeping our EU friendships healthy on the one hand while updating our Commonwealth friendships for the 21st century on the other hand, is irrevocably in Britain’s best interests, thereby creating a new paradigm that will allow the UK to work to its strengths over the next 100 years.
It’s a proven fact, men can’t bear children. Ask anyone.
Therefore, any children born in a country are going to be born to women. And before World War I, British females of child-bearing age were having 3.2 children on average which created a constant, but manageable population growth rate.
This translated into a healthy economy — all those new mouths to feed, clothe, educate and shelter — and such birthrates form the basis of every domestic economy.
In economies with a high national birthrate per fertile woman, a significant domestic economy exists and consequently, sending raw resources or manufactured goods to other countries *isn’t* required to prop up the economy.
When more people are being born than are dying every year, you have the perfect domestic economy — and exports are merely the icing on the cake — and what a ride it is when the domestic economy is growing and exports are growing every year! Woot!
That’s how Britain prospered for centuries, until WWI and WWII changed all that.
Let’s Skip Over the War Part and Get to the Results
Enough has been written and filmed about Britain’s part in WWI and WWII to fill entire libraries (as it should, and to every living and long-dead veteran, thank you again for our freedom!) but for our discussion today, let’s look at how two world wars changed the demographic picture of Britain.
Women entered the formal workforce and began to earn money.
This was done because the men were away fighting a war and the country was in a desperate labour shortage. Anyone who could turn a shovel, milk a cow, assemble a rifle, or ‘man’ a telephone exchange, was put to work immediately. Some workers were barely in their teens and had plenty of responsibility on their shoulders. The British people of the last century were truly an adaptable and amazing people who rose to every challenge and succeeded. Often at great personal cost.
With most of the men away, women worked up to 16-hour shifts on farms or in factories, and still cared for their household and any children that had been born prior to the war, and Britain’s birthrate fell precipitously. In fact, the birthrate per fertile woman fell below replacement levels and the population of the country as a whole, began to fall.
No country can sustain such a falling birthrate, however due to the extremely high wartime demand for weapons and other war matériel the economy continued to function. Not as well as prior to the war mind you, but it still functioned — and apart from borrowing money on the international markets to fund the war machine — Britain’s economy remained sound. The last payment on Britain’s WWI and WWII $120 billion war debt was recently repaid in 2006.
Economic Recovery and Birthrate in the Postwar Era
The result of all this war was that there was a postwar baby boom and Britain’s economy once again began to thrive.
Two profound things changed the British economy forever in the postwar era: 1) British women were likely to put off having children and continue working, and 2) in 1961 birth control pills became available to married women and were later made available to single women.
As a result, the birthrate per fertile woman in Britain again plummeted (replacement levels in Western countries is at 2.2 babies per fertile woman) and employers were eager to employ women who were happy to work for less than half of what men earned. In some cases, women were paid only 40% of what their male counterparts earned and no one thought anything about the discrepancy — not even the women.
Women’s participation in the workforce increased, and beginning in the 1970’s the rates of pay for women began to rise and even fewer babies were born to British women who were too busy earning income to want children.
Consequently, the government was informed by industry-centric economists to open the floodgates to foreign workers (starting in 1999) to meet the demand for labour in the country (which is a different way of saying, ‘bring in the kind of workers who will work for what we used to pay the women’ e.g. 40% of the wage rate for male workers) and British profits will rise again. Indeed they did, but unemployment among British citizens rose and downward pressure on wages began to be a measurable factor.
Company profits rose, British GDP rose, productivity fell but later recovered as the foreign workers became more proficient at their jobs and had a better understanding of the English language, and domestic demand for goods and services (which every economy is built on) skyrocketed.
All of it is an astonishing success story, Britain with its wartime partners winning two world wars, rebuilding its economy in the postwar era, adding millions of women to the workforce, the introduction of pharmaceutical birth control, near-parity for women’s wages in recent years, high profits for companies and a respectable GDP growth curve.
The downside for some is that it took millions of foreign-born workers migrating to Britain to sustain growth in the UK economy because British-born women would rather work than have babies. (Just like women in other developed countries)
Which brings us to the present moment.
Would UK Women Prefer to Have Babies, or Would They Prefer to Work?
The simple answer is, if they could afford to stay home and have babies, they would. Many studies support this finding although a certain percentage of women would continue to work until their 40’s before having children.
Even in this era of cheap birth control and relatively plentiful work for women, many women would prefer to stay home and raise children. But due to lower wages as a result of massive immigration many families cannot afford to have one wage-earner staying at home to raise children.
And we all know how enormously expensive raising children can be these days.
Are There Any Solutions?
There are always solutions. The question is, are they affordable and acceptable to the majority of citizens?
- Wages rise enough for one wage-earner to support the entire family and have enough money left over to take a nice, 3-week family vacation per year (like it used to be in the ‘old days’) OR,
- British citizens willing to go through the effort and expense of raising children must receive some kind of assistance paid by an incremental increase in the national taxation rate.
Eventually, everyone who pays taxes would be able to recoup the additional portion of the taxes paid when they themselves decide to have children.
Using a Parental Guaranteed Basic Income to Boost the UK-born Birthrate
Let’s say that UK-born ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’ want to have children. But because of the high costs of food, clothing and shelter in the UK (which you can partially blame on high immigration loads that force-up prices) they decide they must remain working until they can afford to have children. Many Britons are caught in this trap.
Why is it a trap? Because every year they remain working, the cost of everything continues to rise and they’re no further ahead after ten hard years of effort.
Both people working + one recession = no kids. It happens over and over. Working couples barely reach a point where they feel they can afford to start a family, and BOOM! along comes a financial crisis. Bad for the baby-blanket business!
It’s typical for recessions to occur every 15-25 years. So British-born couples like ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’ may never reach their goal of having children, like millions of other Britons. And if they finally get to the point where they feel they can afford a family — they’re 100 years old like Abraham and Sarah of ancient Mesopotamia.
And everyone wonders why Britain has a 1.89 birth rate per fertile woman, which is far below population replacement levels. As mentioned above, 2.2 births per fertile woman is considered replacement level in developed nations. If you want to grow the population and not just maintain the present number, then the birthrate value must rise above 2.2 births per fertile woman.
The UK has a long way to go to meet replacement levels, let alone begin to increase the population!
If that’s true, why does the UK population continue to increase? One word: Immigration.
Again, the solution if you don’t want ever-increasing immigration to prop-up your population and eventually replace the UK-born people;
- Raise wages dramatically so that one wage-earner can afford to provide for the entire family, OR,
- Families with children receive some kind of payment from the government financed by an incremental tax increase.
For those who don’t like higher taxes, hey, that’s your right. But don’t complain when your children are the last native-born Britons in the country!
Assuming you don’t want to hand Britain over to foreigners (even though some of them are very nice) UK-born women will need to be compensated for leaving their career and raising children.
A monthly payment can make the difference between a falling or rising birthrate.
If ‘Richard’ continues to work and ‘Anne’ receives a Parental Guaranteed Basic Income (PGBI) of £1088 per month, it might be enough for middle class families to get by with only one wage-earner.
In this way the negative birthrate problem in the UK will eventually be righted and massive immigration loads will no longer be required to sustain the UK population / and consequent domestic economy.
More UK-born children = fewer immigrants moving to the UK
Assuming both ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’ have worked since leaving school and paid their fair share of taxes, when they are ready to start a family they will do so secure in the knowledge they will be able to afford it due to the PGBI system. ‘Richard’ will earn his wages and ‘Anne’ will receive £1088 per month.
At income-tax time, they simply combine their income (let’s assume £80,000/yr for ‘Richard’ and £13,056 for ‘Anne’) and pay the normal amount of tax on their combined income of £93,056.
If they keep their expenses low, that’s enough annual income to raise one child until he/she reaches 18 years of age.
Which is certainly cheaper for the UK than paying double that amount to host one immigrant who will send much of his/her earned money to his home country to help his or her family for as long as he/she remains in the UK.
If we’re paying thousands per month for each immigrant (directly and indirectly) to sustain the UK population, why can’t we pay ‘Anne’ less than half that monthly amount to raise a UK-born child?
Eventually, ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’s’ child will grow up to become a worker and he or she won’t be sending thousands of pounds sterling off to a foreign country every year (yes, the immigrants work very hard for their money — they can do what they like with it) but the UK-born child will simply spend their earnings in the UK economy, except for his/her vacations outside of the UK.
For as long as ‘Anne’ stays at home raising her children, she can continue to collect the £1088 per month PGBI until she returns to the workforce and begins earning more than that monthly amount, or when her child hits 18 years of age, her PGBI payments will be discontinued.
Obviously, the easiest way to run this programme is via a ‘reverse income tax’ where a person’s income, their partner and their child, all appear on the same income tax form. After filing their combined tax form, couples would be notified of their eligibility for PGBI and monthly payments would begin.
Caveat: As long as ‘Anne’ is receiving any amount of income over £1088 per month, either via unemployment insurance payments, annuity payments, inheritances, lottery winnings, gifts from family members, or from whatever other source, ‘Anne’ will not qualify for the PGBI payment. If she is earning less than £1088 per month (from all sources) the PGBI programme would top-up her personal income to £1088/month.
Although it sounds expensive, it would still be cheaper by half compared to the present method of paying immigrants to keep the UK population at a sustainable level and thereby keeping consumer demand high in the overall economy.
How to Pay for This?
Britons are already paying for it… TWICE OVER!
Each immigrant represents a significant cost to the British taxpayer, (and yes, they do work very hard to earn a living in the UK, no one is denying that) but in addition to using infrastructure and services in the country just like everyone else, there is a cost differential of about £100,000 per immigrant over their lifetime.
The Home Office / Border Force must devote considerable time and effort to immigrants with some costs happening even before the migrant lands in Britain.
Immigrants receive the same benefits as UK citizens such as welfare payments, and cost the government in other ways, including police, court, and incarceration costs, higher than average security and certain administration costs that are unique to immigrants — and they displace UK-born workers as they’re willing to work for lower wages.
In addition, they send billions of pounds sterling home every year. The figure of £20 billion per year is most often used — but it is likely much higher. Forget about official statistics, the UK government (like most governments) only records those foreign remittances that people volunteer (£3.2 billion) to share with the government. Banks and wire transfer services like Western Union know the real deal on foreign remittances.
And that’s costly to the UK economy. Just divide £20 billion by the 8 million foreign-born residents in the country and you’ll see how costly ‘foreign remittances’ are for the United Kingdom.
The final note on foreign remittances is terrifying. Such payments are notoriously difficult to prove, but the standard number of £20 billion/yr is a guesstimate. It’s widely acknowledged that UK foreign remittances may be double that amount, and could in the very worst-case scenario top £56 billion per year. And you don’t want to know the grand total of foreign remittances since 1999. No matter the number, it’s a lot of money leaving the UK that will never, ever, return.
What could those billions have done for the UK economy? We’ll never know.
‘Cutting Our Losses’ Covers Half of the Cost of a Parental GBI, but More Tax?
In addition to lowering immigration to low levels because UK-born women would be having more babies — there would need to be an incremental tax increase.
A Tobin Tax is simply a tax on all financial transactions in the country. It’s called an ‘invisible tax’ because banks and retailers simply add an internal 1% tax to each and every financial transaction and remit the revenue to the government annually.
- Buy or sell some stock, it costs you 1% more than at present.
- Buy a beer, it costs you 1% more than at present.
- Take £100 from the ATM (yes, that’s a financial transaction) and the bank charges you 1% on the total amount.
- Buy some petrol and 1% is automatically added to the cost.
Basically, whatever you purchase is going to cost you 1% more unless it’s something that costs more than £100,000 — because you pay the Tobin Tax only on the first £100,000 on any individual purchase. Which is nice when you’re buying an Airbus A380 or other large purchase.
Yes, nobody likes higher taxes that’s for certain. But there’s no rule that the Tobin Tax must be set as high as 1%. Some Tobin Tax proponents suggest it could be used to fund special projects like a GBI for UK parents only — in which case it could be set at .2% on individual purchases.
It’s your choice.
Does lower immigration, lower foreign remittance levels, more UK-born children to keep the population stable, and more jobs for Britons matter to you? Or does a Parental GBI funded by a .2% Tobin Tax nullify those gains?
Let us know in the comments!
Population & Density Charts for the United Kingdom 1950 – 2020
Immigration policy continues to appear in British headlines and excessive annual immigration loads in the UK are cited by many citizens as one of the main reasons Britons voted to Brexit the European Union.
Immigration has been a factor in Britain going all the way back to Roman times, and without it the United Kingdom wouldn’t be the thriving country it is today.
As with so many things in life it’s all about balance. The other important factor in this discussion is the implementation of immigration policy.
Some Immigration Stats for You
Britain has a population of 66 million people and it received 650,000 economic migrants and refugees in 2016 alone. Yes, it’s like that every year. Of course, people in favour of higher immigration levels will always refer you to the net migration number, which was 335,000 in 2016.
Regardless of how you choose to calculate UK immigration, millions of Britons have a negative view on the topic and blame scarce jobs, higher infrastructure costs, longer wait times for government services and higher taxes on unprecedented immigration.
High numbers of migrants aside, the UK economy continues to grow and companies are making better profit due to the lower wages paid to immigrant workers.
No economist on the planet will dispute these two points; Higher immigration results in improved corporate profit and growing GDP.
Although it needs to be said that the economy can still grow with lower or even zero immigration when government economic policy is perfect and all the stars are aligned.
By now you’re concluding that high immigration loads are the lazy politicians way of improving the annual GDP statistic, increasing corporate profits, and (probably) increasing donations to their political party. Yes, every economist agrees with you.
Your Economic Status Determines Your Worldview
If increased profits for companies, higher GDP, and donations to your political party are all that matter to you — you’ve hit a home-run! as they say in America. Congrats to you.
Others disagree and cite quality of life issues — real life problems like increased unemployment among native Britons, longer wait times for government services, and the higher personal taxes that pay for the rapidly growing infrastructure required to sustain increased demand.
Your view no doubt, depends on which side of the unemployment line you’re standing on and your tolerance for higher taxes.
It’s easy to see where all this is heading in a decade or two; Those who view immigration negatively will join new, right-wing, anti-immigrant parties similar in concept to Germany’s nationalist AfD party, while big business and (some) politicians will morph towards Trump-style politics — resulting in a quantum shift to the right of the political spectrum among a majority of voters (but very important to note here) that shift will split between many factions.
And isn’t that exactly what has recently happened in Germany, Hungary, Austria, Poland and America?
Is Multiculturalism a Failure, or is Implementation to Blame?
It’s interesting to note that Canada has maintained a multicultural policy since the late 1960’s and that it’s been an astonishing success story with few Canadian detractors.
Led by former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, multiculturalism was sold to Canadians as a silver bullet to;
1) fix a falling Canadian birthrate,
2) to increase aggregate demand in the economy,
3) to attract the highly skilled workers that Canada desperately needed,
4) to access the low wage workers to do the jobs Canadians no longer wanted.
It was also touted to diversify the social fabric of the country and work to subsume the extremely stark (and sometimes hostile) divide between Francophones and Anglophones in eastern Canada.
The level of skepticism was high, but because multiculturalism in Canada was properly and thoroughly sold to Canadians and because it really did accomplish all that Pierre Trudeau said it would, multiculturalism succeeded across the country.
- NOTE: Canada’s population of 36 million is augmented by 300,000 new arrivals annually, while Britain’s population of 66 million is augmented by 650,000 new arrivals per year. (Remember, these are gross total immigration numbers that have little in common with *net* migration numbers)
In recent months, Statistics Canada has reported the number of visible minorities (people from other countries and their Canadian-born offspring) living in Canada now outnumber Caucasian citizens of European descent. And nobody cares.
In Canada, the colour of your skin, your choice of religion, or your cultural bias, simply don’t matter. If you’re there to work, raise a family, and agree to abide by Canadian laws, Canadians are happy to have you along for the ride.
And in Canada émigrés tend to do what is expected of them because everything about becoming a ‘landed-immigrant’ and (after a significant probationary period) a Canadian citizen, is explained to them prior to their acceptance by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Unlike in Britain, migrants to Canada are walked through the process every step of the way and because of that, they are far more likely to understand Canadian values and Canadian culture, and are therefore more likely to assimilate well and become part of the Canadian mosaic.
The importance of informing future British citizens about what is allowed and what is expected of them cannot be underestimated — and the same importance must be attached to informing today’s British citizens how to work with new arrivals. It’s everything in this discussion.
In Canada, the federal government wanted multiculturalism to work and that’s why it worked. Full stop.
Where Do We Go From Here?
It’s taken decades for the UK to get to this point and every party represented in the House of Commons has been a part of the process. Playing the blame game is a waste of time, so let’s just focus on what’s to be done from here.
There is little Britain can do about the 9 million foreign-born residents already in the country. Of course, the argument could be made that they could all be deported to their countries of origin, but that isn’t a realistic solution to a perceived problem; “perceived” because less than half of Britons report being concerned about the number of immigrants in the country.
‘Scofflaws Not Welcome’
Some have made the case that UK expats convicted of any crime more serious than a parking ticket should be deported to their country of origin, forthwith. There are plenty of people already breaking laws in the United Kingdom, the country shouldn’t be importing more of them!
And at an annual cost of £110,000 per year/per prisoner to incarcerate lawbreakers, Britain could save itself millions of pounds sterling annually for the cost of a few hundred airline tickets. Doing so would set a precedent, the kind of precedent that gets noticed for all the right reasons, and work to a) convince certain types to not relocate to the UK in the first place, or b) convince those already in the UK and considering committing crimes to choose an alternate lifestyle — either way, it’s a win-win for Britain.
Foreign Resident Tax
Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated that foreigners living in the UK will be paying an annual fee to help pay a tiny portion of the infrastructure, services, and security costs on a per capita basis — likely around £100 per year, per expat. The PM in a recent PMQ period mentioned the fee would be “about the cost of a passport” but would be due on an annual basis.
Post-Brexit Immigration Policy
One great thing about Brexit is the government will be able to choose its own immigration policy.
Britain should cap total immigration at 200,000 per year, but it should favour highly skilled individuals from the Commonwealth and America who should be moved to the front of the line.
If there are any additional spaces to fill, then and only then should Britain consider allowing people from other countries to migrate to the United Kingdom.
Better Multiculturalism Guidance for both Immigrants and Citizens Going Forward
Proper guidance to help prospective immigrants choose whether Britain really is the country for them, whether they are willing to live by the laws and (Western) culture of Britain, and guidance on how to integrate into British society would smooth the path for migrants and citizens alike.
It’s not only new arrivals that need guidance. A bit of knowledge, understanding and sensitivity can go a long way to keep small irritations small, rather than to have them burst into the media spotlight in a way that makes all sides look mean-spirited, uncultured and uneducated.
Canada has a verifiable track record of success in helping both their new arrivals and their citizens to get along together and keep them focused on working for the good of the country and its goals.
If the Home Office hired one experienced Canadian multiculturalism / immigration officer per UK immigration office location (as an advisor) it could make the difference between a successful immigration policy and a failed immigration policy.
And that Canadian multicultural officer should assist in cases involving both new arrivals to the UK and long-time expats with unresolved issues.
Brexit affords the United Kingdom the opportunity to start with a clean sheet and design any immigration policy it chooses.
Incorporating some Canadian success seems appropriate, as does deporting criminal expats within a fortnight.
And an expat tax reminds expats it’s their privilege not their divine right to live in the United Kingdom — although if they’re contributing to the good of the country about as well as anyone else, the UK government and its people should be respectful of their commitment.