Monday, 18 July 2016

European Union - Impact of EU Immigration

Brexit Lie
Brexit and the Impact of Immigration on the UK

Maybe I'm talking to the converted and maybe I'm saying "I told you so!" but this report from the Centre for Economic Performance of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) by Jonathan Wadsworth, Swati Dhingra, Gianmarco Ottaviano and John Van Reenen, vindicates just about everything I have written about the immigration issue in respect of the EU referendum.

It reveals the blatant lies peddled by the Leave side for their own Machiavellian political ambitions, and it has to be said, shows the failure of the Remain side in failing to counter those lies.

It's almost as though the Leave side had taken the advice of the experts then worked out a strategy for making people believe exactly the opposite. The whole operation was to pull the wool over the eyes of the British people and make them believe falsehoods. This was not accidental nor was it people telling us something they mistakenly believed to be true. This was deliberate deception on a massive, calculated and orchestrated scale by people in possession of the truth.

At least two of the ring-leaders and possibly all of them don't even seem to have expected enough people to fall for it to actually win the campaign. Their strategy appears to have been to lose valiantly and to emerge as leaders of a well-intentioned but failed faction, now magnanimously accepting the will of the people. Farage's political career is now over. Instead of looking forward to being the leader of a large but never large enough bunch of MPs in Westminster as leader of a minority party, he was suddenly leader of a party without a cause - and has scuttled off to spend more time with his money. No doubt the book will be out soon.

Immigration was a major, probably the major, theme of the Leave side, at least for many of those who voted to leave. It became deliberately confused with general non-EU immigration and with the current Middle-Eastern refugee crisis with the UKIP faction even producing a blatantly racist poster showing a long queue of Asian-looking faces apparently flooding into the country. This was neither effectively countered by the Remain side nor effectively disowned by the Leave side.

But even leaving aside that deliberate lie, voters were left with the distinct impression, not effectively countered, that EU immigration alone is responsible at least in part, for:
  • The increased demand on the NHS due to 'health tourism'.
  • An intolerable burden on schools.
  • The lack of affordable housing for young couples.
  • The lack of social housing.
  • An intolerable burden on social services and welfare, causing higher taxes.
  • Unemployment and low wages.

We were also sold the lie that somehow, despite not being a member of the open border Schengen Agreement, Britain had no control of its borders and no powers to prevent anyone coming here, whether criminal, terrorist or simply welfare tourist.

But the LSE report completely dispels these myths. The facts are almost exactly the opposite of the Leave side's lies:

  • Between 1995 and 2015, the number of immigrants from other European Union (EU) countries living in the UK tripled from 0.9 million to 3.3 million. In 2015, EU net
    immigration to the UK was 172,000, only just below the figure of 191,000 for non-EU immigrants.
  • The big increase in EU immigration occurred after the ‘A8’ East European countries joined in 2004. In 2015 29% of EU immigrants were Polish.
  • EU immigrants are more educated, younger, more likely to be in work and less likely to claim benefits than the UK-born. About 44% have some form of higher education compared with only 23% of the UK-born. About a third of EU immigrants live in London, compared with only 11% of the UK-born.
  • Many people are concerned that immigration reduces the pay and job chances of the UK-born due to more competition for jobs. But immigrants consume goods and services and this increased demand helps to create more employment opportunities. Immigrants also might have skills that complement UK-born workers. So we need empirical evidence to settle the issue of whether the economic impact of immigration is negative or positive for the UK-born.
  • New evidence in this Report shows that the areas of the UK with large increases in EU immigration did not suffer greater falls in the jobs and pay of UK-born workers. The big falls in wages after 2008 are due to the global financial crisis and a weak economic recovery, not to immigration.
  • There is also little effect of EU immigration on inequality through reducing the pay and jobs of less skilled UK workers. Changes in wages and joblessness for less educated UK-born workers show little correlation with changes in EU immigration.
  • EU immigrants pay more in taxes than they take out in welfare and the use of public services. They therefore help reduce the budget deficit. Immigrants do not have a negative effect on local services such as crime, education, health, or social housing.
  • European countries with access to the Single Market must allow free movement of EU citizens whether in the EU (like the UK) or outside it (like Norway and Switzerland).
  • The refugee crisis has nothing to do with EU membership. Refugees admitted to Germany have no right to live in the UK. The UK is not in the Schengen passport-free travel agreement so there are border checks on migrants.

The last two bullet points above highlight the scale of the lie that was sold to the British people. It is not possible to negotiate access to the European Single Market and not allow free movement of labour. The choice for the UK now is to continue to allow EU immigration or to suffer the impact on our economy of losing free access to the Single Market. And of course, leaving the EU has no impact at all on immigration due to the refugee crisis because Britain already has control of its borders. Nor, incidentally, does it have any impact on immigration from the Commonwealth - more than 50% of total immigration.

"That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one's secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous."

Joseph Goebbels,
Nazi Germany's propaganda minister.

The Leave campaigners seem to have mistaken this for a campaign strategy, rather than an insult.
Because of the (it has to be said) success of this appeal to xenophobic paranoia - success achieved partly by telling people what they wanted to hear - we had the idiotic situation of people from rural areas like much of Wales and Cornwall voting to leave. They receive millions in the form of investment in infrastructure, roads, hospitals, schools, etc., from the EU and have almost zero immigration. They voted to leave and forgo all that EU support because of the imaginary flood of millions of 'criminal' immigrants, asylum-seekers and welfare scroungers heading their way, with the government unable to do anything to defend them because of a few mad people in Brussels.

Not surprisingly, as people realise they were sold lies and begin to see the impact of their decision to leave, and as they see the major liars of the leave side scuttle off to leave others to clear up their mess, there are growing demands for a re-think with well over four million signing a petition for a second referendum, this time with the truth being put before the electorate.

A recent poll shows that 1.2 million voters now regret their vote to leave. So far, the polls, for what they're worth, seem to be giving mixed results regarding holding a second referendum. An early one showed a 40% support for one while a later ComRes one shows only 29% support.

What is quite clear though is that people were remarkably misinformed and ill-informed and voted to leave for all sorts of confused reasons, many of them believing things that were simply untrue and perceiving problems and disadvantages in EU membership that simply did not exist or which will not be solved by leaving. They have been fooled into giving up a great deal in return for little or nothing and for a smaller economy. And it seems that all of this was to serve the ego of self-important politicians who were betting our future against a hoped-for advance in their own political careers. Once they realised the game was up and the gamble had failed for them, they couldn't wait to leave the sinking ship.

This can only lead to a further diminution of people's confidence in the political process, in politicians and in democracy itself. Ironically, it was actually the honest politicians who were telling the truth in the referendum campaign who were disbelieved. Incredibly, people fell for the idiotic argument that they shouldn't listen to the experts! The experts were seen to be on the side of the 'establishment' and it was the 'establishment' which was perceived as untrustworthy.

Britain now faces an uncertain future, a diminishing standing in the world and possibly a breakup of the United Kingdom and all because a few people managed to pull off the old trick of fooling a majority of the people for a few days by appealing to flag-waving jingoistic nationalism, cultural chauvinism and xenophobic paranoia.

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