Are Economic Migrants Good for the UK?

I’m Nana Akua, this is GB news we are the people’s Channel and it’s time now for the Great British debate. This hour I’m asking; do you believe that mass migration is good for the economy? Now, earlier former immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told Camilla Tominey that it’s taking its toll on the country.

Last 30 years politicians of all stripes have promised controlled and reduced immigration only to deliver the opposite and the public are rightly furious at what’s happened. It’s placed immense strain on housing, on public services, on community cohesion and it hasn’t improved the economy.

What we’re proposing is that we return to the tens of thousands, but unlike previously we have a cap so Parliament itself votes for a democratic migrants lock, so the public can have a degree of confidence, which they don’t have today that when politicians say these things, they mean it.

It’s a shame that you actually need to do that though isn’t it? They should be able to have an actual number and that’s an issue. I’m just wondering why every target they haven’t hit, they’ve missed anyway but the latest official estimates show that net migration in the year to June 2023 was 672,000.

It’s projected that the UK population could go up by a massive 6.6 million by 2036. I mean, can we sustain that? We haven’t even got enough houses and everything else for the people who are here, so for the Great British debate this hour I’m asking do you believe that mass migration is good for the economy?

Joining me now his former Sunday Mirror editor Paul Connew, the research director at the centre for migration control Robert Bates, Professor Azeem Ibrahim author and academic and also my panellists Peter Edward and Claire Pearsall. OK right, I’m going to start with you Professor Azeem Ibrahim, what are your thoughts on this mass migration, is it a benefit, is it a net benefit?

Controlled Migration

I think Robert Jenrick is absolutely right you know; we really do need a cap on migrants. Migration is very good for the country but only when it’s controlled migration, not mass migration. When you have lost control of your borders, you know one of the reasons why the United States the world’s largest economy has been so successful is simply because they’ve had a secret weapon which was the H1B Visa which is also known as The Genius visa, for people of very high skills, extraordinary skills which they have basically brought into the country. We are unable to implement a policy like this on migrants simply because we’ve lost control of our borders.

We have no control of who comes into the country and who stays here and then as we enter the age of migration this is only going to be exacerbated. We really need to get a control of our borders so we can implement a more intelligent migration policy that’s actually going to benefit the economy. Well Robert Bates, now a lot of people talk as though we need all the more migration, we keep hearing we need more migrants because we need people to do the jobs that the British people won’t do, apparently this is true no?

It’s not true and the key example of that would be the health care sector which we’re constantly told would absolutely collapse, just because young Brits aren’t going into the profession. If you actually look at the data and UCAS website reports you see that the number of Brits are actually applying to do those roles that we told you would be left vacant if it wasn’t for migrants.

There are thousands of people that are applying every single year and just being turned down so we have the capacity already here to meet these needs but that would obviously require investment, it would require training and that’s something that the British economy just doesn’t seem to be geared towards doing at the moment.

Cheap Imported Labour is Killing our Economy

Because it has been weaned over the last 30 years onto cheap overseas labour a lot of people voted Brexit because and I was one of them, I didn’t like the fact that it felt like wages were being pulled down because of mass migration and cheap migrants labour. That was my thoughts on it.

Paul do you think looking at this that Robert Jenrick is right, that we do need to actually have a cap on migrants numbers? Sensible migration policy of course, but Rishi Sunak is betting the farm as the Americans say in his re-election hopes, on his Rwanda policy which is a gimmick and funnily enough the last office of national statistic IC survey put immigration at number seven on the Public’s priorities, well below the cost of living, the NHS social care, climate change and housing.

So, I don’t think that Rishi Sunak can actually bear too much hope that Rwanda is going to actually stem the slump in the opinion poles and turn the electoral tide. Of course we need migration, no one supports gangs sending people across on dinghies but we haven’t got a coherent immigration policy. Also, we do need migration in many fields, we’re an aging population like it or not and we and much of the Care sectors and in the NHS and other areas too, rely on migration.

Of course, with migration you also need, which Labour at least have seized on to, you need a better housing policy because people in many ways are less concerned about migration other than the fact that it plays into a housing crisis, so you need to square that circle.

Well but Paul what you said about Rwanda though a lot of people are saying that it’s starting to work because there are elements of it that appear to working. I’ll get Claire Pearsall to respond to that because Claire, what do you think about what Paul is saying?

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Where is our Migration Strategy?

Part of what Paul is saying is right, that you need a coherent immigration strategy, migration strategy and you need to understand where your need for workers is coming, from how many you need and how long you need them for and we’ve been there before, when we’ve had a cap of the tens of thousands of migrants and it didn’t work especially.

When you looked at the health care sector you reached the limit on the number of people that could come in and the health surface was absolutely crying out for people so you need to look at the flex that you have within your own system and can you do it.

Now, the government hasn’t really understood what it wants its immigration system to be and I think that we are all in danger of conflating legal migration into those coming over illegally and they are very different things, they have very different problems to sort. Now the Rwanda plan on the one hand could well be a deterrent, we don’t know because the planes haven’t taken off. Now I doubt it and I’ve always been consistent on this, I don’t think it’s going to work it doesn’t have the capacity in order to make a difference, but it’s not about the capacity, it’s the deterrent effect. It is about the capacity because if you are only looking at one in 25 or a 1 in 50 chance of being sent there then you’re still going to make that journey.

Well, it’s a start though isn’t it and actually it’s going to be one of the solutions, I mean after all where do you send somebody who doesn’t appear to have anywhere else to go if they fail your migration, your asylum process?

Peter Edwards, I mean I think we’ve got to keep immigration asylum separate but Robert Jenrick the former immigration minister is essentially running a campaign to be the next leader of the Conservative party, so that’s one of the reasons why he’s talking about migrants and one of the reasons why he did a heavily photographed trip to Texas.

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Public Services Under Pressure

In terms of the actual policy in the British economy however people feel about it and there’s a completely legitimate question about pressure on public services, school places, house building, doctor’s waiting lists and so on.

The British economy is relying on immigrant labour, I don’t know, no it isn’t, I mean the British economy, I don’t believe that Peter Edwards there’s more British people working than people who come in from other countries to do those jobs, so I think that’s a bit of a stretch to say that. This country is reliant fully, I mean do you feel perhaps, sorry yeah go on, I said not fully but heavily rely on it.

We can’t actually produce enough doctors; I mean it’s harder to get into medical school now even with the right grade so we’re cutting back on medical school places and yet we have the far-right people arguing in fact; we just need British doctors. Hold on a minute, you just, you’re talking about the far right as if that’s not quite true is it, because you think about it right you’re going to somewhere like Africa and you’re going to take the doctors from Africa is that better? Are you thinking that that’s a morally better position than insisting that British people do the jobs?

It’s not really is it? Morally probably not, but if we’re talking in terms of British politics, I mean Dan Poulter’s resignation you know yesterday or defection to Labour, I had a message from one Tory MP who’s quite largely Pro Sunak but saying that defection is a disaster for the Tory party and that combined with disastrous local election results next Thursday will actually certainly spark another challenge.

We’ll see about that but I want to zoom in on this mass migration because I often hear that people say that the far right and this and that and you know we should be taking doctors from other countries. Surely that’s worse yeah?

No, absolutely you know one of the multi-pronged problems, one of the reasons why we’re importing such low-level, low skilled migrants is that we have a population of our own that’s basically, many of them are unwilling and unable to work for a variety of reasons. In my home city for example in Glasgow you have 90% of the working age population are out at work.

Time to Get Britons back to Work

In other cities in the United Kingdom like Blackpool the percentage is much higher around 25% and the cost of this to the economy is just so substantial, so this is a multi-prong problem, that those low-level skill jobs in the care sector, in the health sector you know the local population is just unwilling and to undertake them.

So, we have to sort that out from that front, we also have to have full reform of the you know the Health and Social sector and there just no other way. This isn’t just about migration; we’re simply importing migrants you know because the local population is just not willing to do a lot of these jobs.

Well Robert, it does seem that the bottom line is the net benefit isn’t really working out because it ends up that in the end even though we think we’re helping ourselves at the end of the day they’re not a net benefit.

Robert your final thoughts. Yes, and under this Conservative government the immigration system has shifted overwhelmingly towards being made up of migrants that official studies, the migration advisory committee’s own studies show are a net cost.

The idea that migration that we’re talking about is just doctors and it’s just you know highly skilled chemical engineers and things like that just isn’t the case. It’s low skill, low value, no real contribution, no boost to productivity, anything like that.

Right so final word yes or no from each of you, do you believe Mass migration is good for the economy, yes or no? Paul what do you mean by mass migration, legal controlled legal migration yes, which is what also we got.

Time so we’re going to the news, so I just want a quick yes or no if you can so you’re not sure you Robert Bates. Yes or no is it good or bad Claire? Peter Edwards, if you cut migration the economy will be smaller that’s final. Yes, no it’s not good, no absolutely not, has to be controlled migration. Right, listen thank you so much for all of your thoughts, lovely to get you all on, thank you so much this is GB news on TV, online and on Digital radio.