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Telegraph: Britain will not shut its doors on the EU after Brexit, but it must not forget its workforce at home

Date: 22 02 2017

Britain will not shut its doors on the EU after Brexit, but it must not forget its workforce at home

Whilst visiting Estonia and Latvia, the Brexit Secretary has been widely reported to say that the UK is not about to “suddenly shut the door” on low-skilled EU migrants and that the Government would only restrict freedom of movement when it was in “the national interest”.

The Government has made good progress so far on the road to triggering Article 50, but when it comes to immigration, they have a fine line to tread. 

One of the strongest reasons that the British people voted to leave the EU last June was to get back control over our porous borders – the Government cannot be seen to backtrack on the people’s instructions when it comes to stopping the open-door immigration that has changed the face of Britain over the past decade.

David Davis also said that it would be “years and years” before British citizens would fill posts in the hospitality sector, hotels and restaurants, in the social-care sector and in agriculture, and warned that “just because we’re changing who makes the decision on the policy”, we cannot expect the open door to shut.

If the Government’s motives are to placate any worries British business might have about jobs in post-Brexit Britain, they need not waste their time – immigration to Britain will continue, but we will now be able to control the quality and quantity of who comes here.

One of the major flaws of our current open-door system is that it is inherently unfair – a plasterer from Warsaw will often take priority over a brain surgeon from Wellington – a system that has been in place ever since Tony Blair’s idiotic decision not to impose transitional controls to the ten new entrants to the EU in 2004.

The figures speak for themselves – in 2003, a Home Office report predicted that Britain would receive between 5,000 to 13,000 net immigrants per year averaged over a ten year period from the group of new member states.

However, as we would find out, these figures were drastically wrong. We were sold a pup. Between 2004 and 2012, the Office for National Statistics calculated that the net inflow of migrants from the new members was 423,000. That is a massive difference and we believe the real numbers are much higher. This has led to wage suppression for local British workers

Those on the other side of the debate argue that this massive influx has provided the low-skilled end of the British economy with much needed labour. However, I and many on my side of the debate would argue that before 2004, the UK was still able to source adequately skilled people, and not in eye-wateringly large numbers, to serve the needs of the British economy – from the low-skilled industries to which David Davis refers right up to doctors and scientists.

With regard to our home grown workforce, Brexit provides an opportunity to lower the UK’s unemployment figures even further than their present historic low. With 4.8 per cent of the workforce out of a job, there are opportunities across the board to entice undiscovered British talent into jobs through better education and training. 

This will take effort from both business and government, however, with the right incentives from business and with the right support from industry and government for boosting the vocational skills base of unemployed Brits – we will emerge from the European Union with a stronger and more sustainable economy.

David Davis is right, the UK will not completely shut our doors to talent after we leave the EU, but the Government must be bold in seizing the opportunities presented by Brexit to match a sensible, managed immigration policy with a vision to grow and train a workforce that will serve Britain’s economy in the long-term.

February 22nd, 2017: Telegraph