Three crucial issues are consistently misrepresented in the increasingly hysterical “debate” about EU immigration into the UK.
Firstly, eurosceptics claim that EU immigrants are “taking British jobs”. In reality they are taking jobs that Britons could have, but won’t do at the wages on offer.
This is not only the case at the bottom of the scale: 2,300 Polish doctors have come to work in the UK, but in the last year alone more than 500 British GPs took their skills abroad.
A second assertion is that the cost of accommodating immigrants damages the British economy.
In fact, the UK’s vaunted “economic success” depends on a constant supply of labour prepared to work hard for low pay. Any restrictions the government manages to impose on economic immigration will hurt employers first, and the rest of us later.
Finally, eurosceptics endlessly point to Norway and Switzerland as examples of countries which can make their own rules, free of EU red tape and restrictions. The reality is that both countries maintain their access to European markets only by accepting all aspects of EU Freedom of Movement regulations – as well as 95 per cent of other EU regulation.
Both are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, and indeed both belong to the Schengen agreement abolishing borders and passport controls within Europe.
People like Owen Paterson MP and Bernard Jenkin MP – perhaps even David Cameron – must know that most of their claims about EU immigration are demonstrably nonsense. Nevertheless, they appear to be prepared to spout whatever they think might maintain their party in government or themselves in jobs.
Where is the genuine leader, of any party, who will cut through the obfuscation and win the arguments by telling the truth? Voters do not like to be taken for fools.
First they came for the immigrants from outside Europe. Then they came for the (almost non-existent) EU immigrants who come here just to claim welfare.
Now they’re after the EU working poor (getting rid of tax credits for hard-working immigrants in menial jobs).
I’m an Irish immigrant who’s worked hard and paid taxes here for almost 20 years. I wonder when it will be my turn.