An 82-page dossier, outlining the Tories’ proposed immigration legislation once the UK has left the European Union, has been leaked to The Guardian newspaper. It was marked “extremely sensitive”, and it certainly is.
The document is imbued with the language of “British jobs for British workers”, the slogan that then Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown first raised 10 years ago, and that certain Unite officials took up (with disastrous consequences) a couple of years later.
It says that “immigration should benefit not just the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off” and that “wherever possible, UK employers should look to meet their labour needs from resident labour”.
Contradicting the well-worn mantra that we must leave the EU to get away from Brussels’ red tape, the Tories propose to introduce “an economic needs test that employers must complete to check whether suitable recruits can be found locally before hiring an eu citizen”. The right to enter Britain to look for work will be taken away.
Elsewhere, the detailed paper lists measures to restrict how long migrants can stay in the uk, what kind of identity documents they must hold, what family members are or aren’t allowed to join them, what kind of jobs they can have and how high their pay or savings need to be.
Setting up scapegoats
This dossier is as dodgy as the one that sent the UK to war with Iraq. Immigration has neither forced down “British wages” nor caused unemployment.
Indeed employment rates are at an all-time high, and unemployment the lowest since the early 1970s. On the other hand, rogue employers are encouraged to cheat workers out of the minimum wage, by the removal of our trade union rights and by the cutting of the number of workplace inspectors.
Evidence of migration causing significant downward pressure on jobs and wages simply does not exist, which is why it is never quoted. And prime minister Theresa May knows this more than most. Liberal Democrat leader (and former Tory-led Coalition partner) Vince Cable revealed that May commissioned nine separate reports on the economic effects of immigration when she was Home Secretary and published none of them, because the results did not fit her agenda.
The truth is that the Tories know that Brexit is going to cause mayhem with the uk economy: a shockwave that will likely hurl us into a deep recession. So they are preparing a shaft of anti-immigrant legislation, as nasty as it is unnecessary, so that cuts and closures can be blamed on Johnny Foreigner and the EU, instead of rebounding on those responsible: the Tory government. The labour movement should prepare to resist this agenda now.