Author: Luke Lythgoe
But make no mistake. If we get a people’s vote on the final deal, Brexiters will stoke up anti-immigration tensions once more. Pro-Europeans need to get ahead of the curve.
One strong argument is that kicking out foreigners is bad for the NHS. If there are fewer EU nurses and doctors, it will be harder not easier to get treated.
Another is that quitting the European Arrest Warrant will mean we have more of the foreigners we really don’t like: the criminals. It won’t be so easy to send them back.
Yet another is to keep saying that the EU has no say on how many foreigners from elsewhere come to the UK. Currently 84% of net migration is from outside the EU – and we are free to control that however we wish.
We also need specific ideas to manage migration from the EU. Former prime minister Gordon Brownoutlined six this week. All are achievable without quitting the EU.
Register EU citizens
In Germany new arrivals have to register their permanent address within a maximum of two weeks. We could do the same too.
EU citizens who don’t have jobs within nine months could be removed. Under EU rules (see articles 9 and 10), we could actually remove people after three months if they can’t support themselves.
Stop wages being undercut
The European Parliament just approved legislation ensuring EU workers “posted” from other countries get the same pay and working conditions as the local labour force.
Force employment agencies to act fairly
We could ban employment agencies advertising jobs abroad that are not first publicised at home. We could also stop them workers for jobs that British workers have been unable even to apply for.
Give preference to local hires
Switzerland is introducing a system skewed towards local hires. In areas of high unemployment, employers are required to register new jobs at local job centres first. Brown suggests local applicants should be guaranteed an interview in these circumstances. Although Switzerland is outside the EU, free movement rules still apply to it.
More support for areas impacted by migration
As prime minister, Brown introduced a £50 million pot to help communities where there has been an influx of foreigners. David Cameron abolished it. Brown now wants a much bigger fund to help local hospitals and schools.
More may be needed to deal with people’s concerns about free movement. But these six are a good start. It’s time to take back control of the migration narrative from the Brexiters.