Leaving the EU – where would we stand?

Sep 21, 2015

149357543_0Over the past 12 months, there has been a large amount of speculation regarding the UK’s stance on immigration policy and whether leaving the EU is a viable and beneficial option. Recent immigration statistics published at the end of August by the Office for National Statistics illustrated that net migration to the UK had risen to 330,000 last year. Despite the Government’s target to reduce migration to the tens of thousands, this latest figure is in fact the highest on record and making up 183,000 of this figure are migrants from within the EU. Despite the Government’s target to reduce migration to the tens of thousands, this latest figure is in fact the highest on record and making up 183,000 of this figure are migrants from within the EU. Despite the Government’s target to reduce migration to the tens of thousands, this latest figure is in fact the highest on record and making up 183,000 of this figure are migrants from within the EU.

At face value therefore, it could be argued that leaving the EU and ‘free-movement’ would be a strong contributing factor to helping the Government reduce net migration and reaching its ambitious target. However face-value very rarely reflects the reality of the situation.

There is no easy solution and leaving the EU would have its own repercussions. First of all leaving the single market could have potentially detrimental consequences on business and financial services. One of the biggest advantages of the EU is free trade between member nations, making it easier and cheaper for British companies to export their goods to Europe. Second, less migrants from the EU might make for difficult policy implementation regarding asylum seekers and refugees, with the possibility of more space for this category of migrant. Third, recent data has devalued the argument that there has been a large influx of unskilled migrants entering the UK from other EU member states and in fact not having free movement would harm our chances of attracting the best talent from the continent. Finally, following Norway’s example by leaving the EU and joining the European Economic Area actually renders the UK just as susceptible to the effects of free movement as if it was still in the EU.

Combine these arguments with the fact that there is barely any significant evidence of negative impacts on jobs or average wages from EU migration, leaving the EU seems to be becoming a somewhat outdated reason for trying to lower net migration. The UK is stronger and more influential within the EU and sacrificing continent-wide and worldwide stature is not the answer. It is fair to say that the Government has its work cut out.