With the Tories promising yet again to bring net migration into the tens of thousands, is it achievable this time?
YES – Steven Woolfe, independent member of the European Parliament for the North West of England.
The difference between this parliament and the last is Brexit. After Brexit, the government will finally have the power, ability and the mandate to reduce net migration significantly. Leaving the EU is not a silver bullet to reducing net migration – but it presents a new opportunity to make further domestic changes to the current system.
Last month, I published my ideas for a Fair, Flexible and Forward Thinking migration policy. In this, I propose a five year freeze on unskilled labour, a 100,000 annual cap on Tier 2 skilled visas, and changes to the family reunion rules for temporary workers and students. With these changes and more, I forecast that net migration can reach around 50,000 per year. Work migration makes up the largest chunk within the official numbers and that is the main area we must control to reduce migration to the tens of thousands. In short, it’s only possible if the government makes necessary changes.
NO – Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors.
The two previous administrations have failed to meet the self-imposed target on immigration, and if the next government sticks to this target, it looks almost inevitable that they will again fail to meet it – at least not without significant economic cost. Politicians should instead be honest about the importance of foreign workers across many industries, from agriculture to our world renowned education system.
Instead all parties should look at steps that would ensure the UK’s immigration policy is set to meet the challenges of Brexit. It makes no sense to view students as migrants: they are only here temporarily and are essential to our universities and local economies. They should not be included in any future target. If we are to become the open, trading nation we were promised during the referendum campaign, we will need an immigration system that allows the best workers from around the world to come here.