In my post last Tuesday, I was trying to ensure that as many people as possible were registered to take part in the EU referendum. And in what I am sure is solely due to the readership of this blog, and has nothing to do with the debate on ITV or the various events being hosted around the country such as the one hosted by the Evening Standard in London, so many people were trying to access the site to register that it crashed well before midnight, leaving huge numbers unsure if their registration had gone through or even unable to access the site full stop. Fortunately, the registration period was extended to allow these people the opportunity to register.
Now that the registration window is closed, I want to start talking about the actual referendum and discussing a few of the most pertinent issues. The reality is, there are multiple reasons which someone may wish to consider which way to vote in the referendum, such as Britain’s identity or even environmental issues, but the biggest and most popular reasons seem to be: Immigration and Border Control; and Trade and Economy. Also of importance to me, is the role the EU plays in laws and, particularly, Human Rights.
Immigration and Border Control
This, I think, is one of the most discussed and often controversial subjects and one of the hardest to discuss in polite conversation. The basis of Free Movement is an often misunderstood topic and often Britain is included in discussions to which the concepts do not apply. Free movement is a fundamental and “non-negotiable” part of membership backed up by law. This allows EU citizens the right to move between EU member nations and look for work without the need for a work visa and to enjoy the benefits of working in that country, such as work conditions and other social and tax benefits. In addition the families of those described above can move with them.
Taken from the BBC website, these are some of the facts about Immigration:
- There are three million EU nationals living in the UK (excluding Britons). Two thirds of them have arrived since 1993 – with huge movements of workers from Eastern European member states after 2004. Two-thirds of EU nationals are working;
- Nine of the 28 member states have higher proportions of foreign EU citizens than the UK; and
- The most recent official figures put net migration from EU countries at 184,000 a year and non-EU at 188,000.
I am pro-immigration, I am not going to hide the fact. That does mean that what I say or how I interpret these facts is likely to be somewhat biased, but then everything can be seen in multiple lights. The third fact listed here shows that the net migration figures are higher for non-EU countries than those in the EU. In turn, this counters the argument that the freedom of movement ‘enforced’ by the EU stifles our ability to allow perhaps more qualified non-EU nationals into Britain. Additionally, something to consider and something that without more precise figures is simply speculation, but one could read that the EU net migration figures are lower because more Britons are able to emigrate to EU countries then are allowed to emigrate to non-EU countries.
My personal experience has also been that immigrants, be they from the EU or further afield, are often harder working than many Britons and with much less of a sense of entitlement, meaning the stereotype is perhaps true that they take the jobs no-one from Britain wants to do and generally do a very good job of it. This is of course not to say that all British people are lazy or not hard working, but my time working in the Jobcentre really left me with the impression that whilst almost all the foreign nationals I met were working hard and largely only got caught out due to ridiculous rules or misunderstandings, it was British people who knew the system (2nd or 3rd generation benefit claimants) who would play the system and due the minimum they could get away with to still receive their benefit.
Part 2 will following in the coming days