Here's the truth about immigration that the Tories must face up to – Scotsman comment

Cutting immigration would damage farmers and other businesses, the NHS, and the UK’s world-leading universities in another Brexit-style blow to the economy

If we were to play a word-association game and say “immigration”, what would be the first thing that came to mind? “Stop the boats”, a favourite slogan of Rishi Sunak, or perhaps “invasion”, Suella Braverman’s inflammatory description of the situation?

Following the news this week that net migration had hit a record figure of 606,000 last year, this might be understandable. However, if so, then, we would suggest, you have been manipulated by cynical politicians with little left to offer and even less to lose.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The real story is to be found in the breakdown of the figures. As the Migration Observatory at Oxford University pointed out, international students, most of whom go home after their studies, made up 39 per cent of non-EU, long-term immigration.

In 2021/22, these students contributed a staggering £41.9 billion to the UK economy. Their fees provided universities with huge amounts of extra funding, enabling them to better compete in the global market for scientists and academics, and to create world-class facilities, all of which helps provide a world-leading education for UK students, so essential to our economic fortunes.

A further 25 per cent of non-EU migrants arrived on working visas, to the relief of the many employers, particularly in health and care, struggling to fill vacancies. The third biggest group, at 19 per cent of non-EU immigrants, consisted of people with humanitarian visas, mostly from Ukraine and Hong Kong. As for asylum seekers, they made up just eight per cent of non-EU immigration in 2022.

Therefore, cutting the number of people coming to the UK would mean deepening the NHS crisis and making farmers and other businesses even more desperate for workers, damaging the economy. Or inflicting ruinous funding cuts on universities, again damaging the economy. Or turning our backs on those fleeing Putin’s bombs, the tyranny of communist China or the Taliban, damaging our souls. Or all of the above.

So beware. When right-wing Conservatives say “immigration”, they’re playing a devious political game, like the campaign in support of Brexit, which continues to damage the economy. We must not allow ourselves to be fooled again.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.