Socialist Worker

Migration report calls for clampdown—but finds migrants don’t hurt jobs, wages or services

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2622

The report recommends changing immigration rules for the worse for European Union migrants

The report recommends changing immigration rules for the worse for European Union migrants (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A Tory government-commissioned report has called for migrants to lose some of their rights after Britain leaves the European Union (EU). Yet it still doesn’t go far enough for many Tories who want a full-blooded racist clampdown.

The Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) report’s proposals would spell the end of free movement. And they would make it harder for migrants insultingly termed “lower skilled”—without university degrees—to come to Britain.

The MAC complains that the “problem with free movement is that it leaves migration solely up to migrants”.

“With free movement there can be no guarantee that migration is in the interests of UK residents,” it claims.

Yet the report’s findings dispel the lies pushed by politicians and the press that immigration is bad for British-born workers.

Campaign group The 3 Million said the report vindicated its campaign for EU migrants’ rights. “None of the claims of the anti-immigration politicians and press turned out to be true,” it said.

“With the evidence on hand it is now the time for the press to challenge them on the spot.”

Right wingers claim that migrants steal British-born workers’ jobs. The report said, “We found migrants have no or little impact on the overall employment and unemployment outcomes of the UK-born workforce”.

Migrants—part of our class
Migrants—part of our class
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One of the most pernicious myths used to divide working class people is that migrants undermine wages. Yet the report makes clear, “The existing evidence and analysis we present in the report suggests migration is not a major determinate of the wages of UK-born workers.”

Migrants pay £78,000 more than they take out in public services and benefits over their lifetime.

It also argues that migrants aren’t the cause of pressure on public services. “Migrants contribute much more to the health service and social care in financial resources and through work that they consume services”.

And in terms of education the report “found no evidence that migration has reduced parental choice in schools”.

Despite making the admissions, the MAC report still recommends changing the immigration rules for the worse for EU migrants. That’s partly because it is trying to straddle divisions in the Tory party.

The Tories’ friends in the City of London and big business rely on immigration to fuel their workforce needs. But Brexiteer MPs want to push through an immigration clampdown in order to appeal to right wing votes.

So the report recommends making it easier for migrants with “higher skills” and “medium skills” to come to Britain. This is supposed to placate some sections of big business, but hasn’t gone far enough for many bosses.

Unfortunately the Labour Party hasn’t gone much further than business. Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said policy must “treat people fairly” but that “our immigration policy needs to be based on our economic needs”.

Scapegoating or discriminating any section of migrants increases working class division and makes it harder to fight the Tories and bosses. The Labour leadership should defend all migrants, not just those that big business deems to be useful at a particular time.

Tories will seek to toughen up the proposals ahead of the publication of the immigration white paper. Preparing for the onslaught requires standing with all migrants—and to defend and extend freedom of movement.


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