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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.
Well, ‘Brexit is Brexit’ as they say, and it looks like it’s going to take a while to finalize details between the UK and the EU. But no need to panic. Brexit will happen and the two sides will be legally divorced within 12-months.
It might turn out to be a good agreement, it might turn out to be a bad agreement, or negotiations might go so awry that the UK leaves without any agreement; In which case WTO rules would automatically apply until superceded by bilateral agreement.
Which wouldn’t be too bad actually, because with no time constraints to worry about post-Brexit, and with no concern about loss of face for politicians (on account of missing the Brexit deadline) powerful industries on both sides of the English Channel could then push their respective governments to create a number of à la carte bilateral agreements pursuant to their sector. Secondary and tertiary industries would then follow the lead of the powerful primary industries.
Eventually, every CEO would be heard by their respective government, and elected representatives on both sides would be compelled by their own political self-interest to present their case to the other side — a very pure way of streamlining trade between Europe’s (by then) newly divorced economies.
Whichever way it goes, in approximately 12-months Britain will be alone in the world save for its Commonwealth partners which it hasn’t cherished enough over the past 86-years, but it’s not to late to change that.
In fact, now is the time for the UK to take huge strides forward with its Commonwealth partners and begin to deliberately favour them over non-Commonwealth nations, especially in regards to trade and immigration.
“The latest net migration statistics show that in the year ending December 2016, net migration to the UK was 248,000.” — Migration Watch UK
The majority of immigrants to the UK since 1999 came from eastern Europe and the benefit for British employers is that these workers accept low-paying jobs and (although it is unethical and in some cases illegal; regardless, it still happens) that a farm or factory could replace all UK-born workers and on the next week hire immigrants who work for far lower wages. This can save companies significant amounts of money especially in the case where the UK-born employees have years of seniority and full benefit plans.
(Want to save 25% on your annual labour expenditure? Fire everyone below the level of General Manager and fill those positions with immigrant workers. Sure, it may be hairy for a while until the newcomers learn their jobs, but think of the money you’ll save! Even with having to pay significant severance pay to UK-born workers that have seniority, and maybe a bit of ‘hush money’ — over time the company will show better profits. If you think this hasn’t been done, you’re naive in the extreme. Whether it’s legal or not, whether it’s ethical or not, or whether it’s the ‘right thing’ for Britons to do to their own countrymen and countrywomen is a completely different matter)
In the end it hurts the UK economy, although it helps UK businesses to earn higher profit, but much of the money earned by the immigrants is sent to their families in eastern Europe or wherever they migrated from.
The name for these kinds of transactions is ‘foreign remittances’ and billions of pounds sterling leave the UK economy for foreign nations every year. That money is gone and is never returning.
The amount of wealth leaving the UK every year via foreign remittances is astonishing and may total as much as £20 billion annually (or more) and as the accounting is imprecise it’s almost always found (years later) that the estimates were extremely low.
The UK is one of the Top-Ten foreign remitting countries in the world
In some countries with heavy remittances from the UK, the amounts are so large that certain developing nations receive up to 6% of their GDP via foreign remittances, and the UK is one of the top-ten foreign remitting countries in the world.
Think how much money Britain’s governments (Labour and Conservative) have allowed to leave the UK via foreign remittances over the past quarter century…
Wouldn’t it be smarter to lower immigration from non-Commonwealth nations?
Why, yes it would. It would be much smarter.
Commonwealth nations have historic links with Britain and it looks better when former colonies (and new Commonwealth members that were never colonies of Britain) are faring well thanks to British largesse.
Following is a short list of UK benefits if immigration from non-Commonwealth nations is replaced by Commonwealth nation immigrants:
- Tens of billions of pounds sterling will no longer leave Britain annually to be used by non-Commonwealth countries
- Foreign remittances from the UK would go to Commonwealth nations instead of non-Commonwealth nations
- Commonwealth nations might choose to source more military equipment, machinery, etc. from the UK
- Commonwealth nations with boosted foreign remittances are more likely to stay within the Commonwealth
- Immigrants to the UK from Commonwealth nations are more likely to understand the British worldview
- Commonwealth immigrants are more likely to integrate well into British society
- Commonwealth nation citizens will have a better opinion of the UK and of Britons
- Commonwealth nation economies will see a corresponding economic benefit
- UK GDP would increase, as would GDP in the other Commonwealth nations
- Commonwealth nations would become politically strengthened
- Commonwealth links between businesses are likely to increase
- Links between Commonwealth citizens are certain to increase
And that’s just the short list.
Yes, billions of pounds sterling will still leave the UK but at least it will be going to Commonwealth member nations that have a similar worldview to Britons and are nations that are more likely to support British policies instead of opposing them.
If the money is going to leave anyway, the smart money would arrange to keep it ‘in the family’ with countries that don’t have adversarial relations with the UK.
Why should the UK be adding to the GDP of non-Commonwealth nations, when it could be adding to Commonwealth nations GDP?
The UK is a member of that august organization and membership itself implies that each member should favour other members.
Commonwealth governments, big business and consumers should always try to shop at Commonwealth businesses first, before trying anywhere else. If something can’t be found for sale in your own nation, then try to purchase it in another Commonwealth nation. If it can’t be found at all, then maybe it’s time for another Commonwealth member nation businesses to pool their resources and build/sell that product.
The UK should cut immigration from non-Commonwealth nations and simultaneously make it one order of magnitude easier for Commonwealth nation citizens to immigrate to Britain.
While the total immigration levels might stay the same, the definite bias should move quickly towards Commonwealth nations and NAFTA countries.
Commonwealth citizens should have UK visas fast-tracked after Brexit, MPs argue (The Telegraph)
Up to 200,000 immigration applications from Commonwealth and NAFTA nations should be accepted each year via a simple online form, a successful criminal records background check, and payment of an immigration fee of £100 per year.
One for all, and all for one!
Instead of strengthening people and nations that have no interest for or against the UK, Britain should quickly move to support Commonwealth members and NAFTA countries.
In this way, countries that are pulling for the Britain’s success will be rewarded by Britain — and vice versa.
The UK should respectfully request NAFTA associate membership the moment Britain formally leaves the EU. And within 5-years, all other Commonwealth nations should make the same request of NAFTA.
That’s how you Build a Better Britain, Build a Better Commonwealth and Build a Better NAFTA!
by John Brian Shannon | March 6, 2017
Many of Britain’s finest newspaper columnists, editors of some of Britain’s most prestigious publications, and even some British MP’s are calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to ‘guarantee’ the so-called ‘rights’ of EU citizens who live, work and play in the United Kingdom.
This might seem a noble idea at first — however, there is no ‘right’ for anyone to live or work in Britain — other than the rights that have been earned by British citizens. It was Britons who built the great nation we see today and they did it through hard work, determination and innovation. And older British citizens suffered through WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and various social upheavals and recessions to build the modern Britain. Well done, lads and ladies!
Why should similar ‘rights’ be conferred upon the citizens of other countries simply because they work, study or retire in Britain?
Do Britons have those ‘rights’ in the EU or in other countries? Why not?
The answer is; British expats will never be granted similar ‘rights’ to citizens in other countries no matter how long Britons live there. So why does this question keep coming up?
“It would be convenient for EU citizens and companies that EU citizens should be granted similar ‘rights’ to British citizens.”
Well yes, of course it would. And I view statements like that in the same context as;
“I would like a free Aston Martin delivered to my door today — and fresh-baked French bread delivered each morning.”
Righto. Allow me to get right on that.
How many other countries offer such ‘rights’ to the expats in their nations — as is being proposed by some in the UK?
Tourists are a completely different matter of course, and they are welcome anytime for stays up to 90 days. (This should be a standard rule in every country)
Britain’s tourism industry is a thriving enterprise — but it isn’t doing half as well as it might simply because Britons don’t see the attraction of Britain through the lens of foreigners. It’s a truly magnificent country that ranks first on practically every traveler’s bucket list.
Britain’s population of 65 million pales in comparison to Europe’s 439 million (for a pan-European total of 504 million in 2016) and it isn’t like continental Europe is running short of land, unlike the island nation of Britain. So why is London such a draw for EU citizens? Why do so many Europeans want to live in the UK?
According to widely circulated media reports there are 3.3 million EU citizens living in the UK, mostly in London, and without a firm border there’s likely to be double that amount by 2025 if Britain decides to award free (virtual) citizenship to EU citizens. There are many more non-EU nationals living in the United Kingdom but no UK government department knows that number.
Our Government has absolutely no idea how many EU citizens live in the UK but The Migration Observatory reckons it will take 140 years to process the 3.5 million EU citizens presently in the UK who may seek permanent residence.
It’s a privilege, not a right
It’s a privilege for anyone to visit, work, or to retire in Britain — not a right.
If some EU citizens are miffed at that statement, they should know that many Britons will rejoice when they return to their former neighbourhoods (which are presently overpriced because 3.3 million high-spending EU nationals live in London) and return to their former jobs when those EU citizens leave the UK.
I sincerely and respectfully urge Prime Minister Theresa May to give careful consideration to granting the citizens of any country any special ‘rights’ unless identical rights are legislated in those other countries for Britons. Although it seems reasonable to me that a slightly more favourable visa regime could be passed by the UK House of Commons for the citizens of Commonwealth nations.
But for nationals of any other bloc or nation, a yearly and easily renewable worker or consultant visa, student visa, retiree visa, family or medical reasons visa, or academic visa should be requiritur per UK imperium for those who plan to stay in the UK for longer than 90 days (e.g. ‘not a tourist or diplomat, but an expat’) and it should be available online for £100 annually at GOV.UK.
Do the math: Assuming 8 million expats x £100 annually = £800,000,000 in annual government revenue. Which would almost cover the costs of monitoring and protecting those 8 million foreign nationals, and covering their share of infrastructure costs.
Millions of Britons lived (and many died in combat) to build a better Britain, let’s not give it away for the sake of corporate convenience to those who won’t ever fight for Britain.
“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone; They paved paradise and put up a parking lot!” — Joni Mitchell
- Ministers urged to protect rights of EU citizens in UK (BBC News–Mar 4, 2017)
- 6 Reasons Why Protecting The Rights Of EU Nationals In The UK BuzzFeed News–Mar 5, 2017)
- Theresa May must guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK (Business Insider–Mar 5, 2017)
- Theresa May faces fresh calls to guarantee rights of EU citizens (The Sun–Mar 4, 2017)
- Gove calls on May to guarantee EU citizens right to remain in UK (International–The Guardian–Mar 4, 2017)
- EU nationals in UK should have future rights guaranteed, MP’s say (International–Gibraltar Chronicle–Mar 5, 2017)