Latest figures show net migration running at 273,000 a year. A pledge to cut migration to “tens of thousands” was made by David Cameron at the 2010 general election and repeated in the 2015 Conservative manifesto. In an open letter, MPs warn that the target is “economically damaging” because the UK needs migrant labour and could be “socially divisive” because it is based on the false premise that migrants are a “negative” for the country.In the letter, three former ministers warn the Government that the target is at odds with recent statements by Cabinet ministers suggesting that workers from EU countries will still be needed after Brexit in sectors such as hospitality, financial services, farming, and construction. Open Britain, the successor to the Remain campaign in last year’s referendum which now urges a soft Brexit, and The Independent,are launching a petitionto rally public support for ditching the target and to highlight the positive contribution made by immigrants, often vilified in populist politics. The campaign has been endorsed by the Royal College of Midwives, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Migration Matters Trust.
Conservative MP Anna Soubry, Labour’s Pat McFadden and Norman Lamb from the Liberal Democrats argue that “EU workers are indispensable to the UK workforce” and that it would be “difficult and damaging” to make huge reductions to EU migration after Brexit. They warn that such cuts would fall on migrants in non-protected areas such as manufacturing, energy, science, communications, education and defence. 1.3 million EU nationals are employed in these non-protected sectors, compared to 699,000 in the areas ministers suggest would be protected.
The Government is under pressure to allow the NHS and social care, which employ 140,000 EU workers, to continue to be able to recruit them after Brexit amid signs that EU nationals are leaving the NHS. EU workers make up nearly a quarter of the three million jobs in restaurants, hotels and tourism. The British Hospitality Association has warned of a shortfall of 60,000 workers a year and that it could take 10 years to train enough British workers.
Ben Wilmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, warned that the idea of an optimal level of net migration is a “total myth”. He said: “Instead of worrying about setting an arbitrary target for net migration, the focus for policy makers should be on designing a flexible immigration system that provides the labour and skills the UK economy will need to grow and compete in the future post-Brexit.”
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said the NHS had to be open to professionals from across Europe and the world to offer the best care. “An arbitrary net migration cap would limit our ability to do that and inevitably result in a health service with fewer of the best specialists, less able to care for the people of this country. That is surely not what anyone wants. It’s time to drop the target,”
Charlotte Holloway, policy director at techUK, which represents 900 technology companies employing about 700,000 people, said: “Nearly 20 per cent of the digital sector’s three million workers were foreign-born, and one third of those from EU countries. Tech companies need solid details to help them plan for the future, which includes knowing that they can continue to attract the international talent they need to grow.”
Capitalism not only requires the mobility of capital but also the mobility of labour. Although the effects of globalisation with the human suffering it brings can lead to bleak and negative conclusions about the future, it is also possible to draw different conclusions, ones that are far more positive and meaningful. For what comes out of this rather gloomy picture is the certainty that capitalism has outlived its usefulness as a progressive mode of production. Capitalism is a naturally expansive system which has migrated to the four corners of the Earth, pushing aside every obstacle in its way. Whether it be the classical nineteenth-century imperialism which built many empires and destroyed the lives and cultures of many indigenous people, or the latter-day domination of the world market by a handful of corporations—capitalism has recognised no boundaries in its search for profit. it has always been ironic that capitalist politicians complain about immigration or the "influx of foreigners" coming into "our country". The workers of the world have no country—we are global. All of the countries are owned by a tiny fraction of the world's population—the capitalist class, who are international. The logic of the profit system is that the capitalists will invest wherever they can get the best return on their capital. One of the major factors has always been low labour costs combined with potential access to a particular market. Hence, capital flows travel the world over, and suddenly patriotism is no longer a factor! One of the more attractive features is Britain's "flexible" labour market. Basically, as usual, it's one rule for capital and another for the working class. Obviously, in the case of a labour shortage the rules may be suspended or even reversed, but the normal practice for the ruling class is to warn about the dangers of immigration thus setting worker against worker whilst, at the same time, being the ultimate immigrants and migrants themselves.