May must scrap "counterproductive" plans to limit immigration says radical free market think tank

Mark Sands
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The Tory Party Hold Their Spring Party Conference
The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June (Source: Getty)

Theresa May has been urged to scrap “counterproductive” moves to limit migration in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, despite public support for reform.

Radical think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs is pushing the Prime Minister to retain freedom of movement in a bid to boost the British economy.

May has made it clear that migration controls will be a critical plank of any Brexit deal, with the Downing Street seeking the best possible trade deals achievable alongside reform.

Read More: What Brexit vote? The number of foreign workers in the UK is still going up

However, the IEA has today published a new report arguing that protecting free movement should be the Prime Minister's top priority, regardless of trade agreements.

The think tank is also calling on May to scrap her long-standing net migration target of sub-100,000, while student visas should also be automatically granted.

It estimates that a 10 per cent ent increase in population by 2027 would reduct net public debt from £20,000 to £18,000 per person.

Read More: Getting immigration wrong post-Brexit could lose London £7bn by 2020

IEA director general Mark Littlewood said: “Politicians should have the courage to stop fighting a counterproductive war against migration and instead treat the ability to move to the UK for work as the valuable, growth-enhancing freedom that it is.

“A liberal migration policy would bring with it significant economic benefits, but currently misguided negative perceptions of recent migrants and our overly restrictive policy for non-EEA countries damages our prosperity.”

It comes as a survey of 1,000 British voters yesterday found that seven out of 10 Britons back limitations on EU migration.

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