Immigration briefing

For many politicians, the British electorate’s hostility to immigration at its current level and in its current form is taken as a given, a simple unchangeable fact.  The assumption that voters will always favour the policies and rhetoric of lower migration informs much of our political debate.  The implications of this assumption are profound. If the Conservatives win the general election and fulfil their manifesto commitment of a Brexit that puts Britain outside the EU Single Market, that will be the consequence of their estimation of public opinion on immigration.  Because, it is thought, voters are heavily opposed to current levels of migration, no Brexit deal that might allow continued large-scale movement of people from the EU could ever be acceptable.  Perhaps the most fundamental change in Britain’s economic settlement for a generation will come about because politicians believe that voters demand big cuts in net migration above all else.

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