Monday

3rd Aug 2020

UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote

  • UK government asks committee to assess the role of migrant workers from EU (Photo: Chris Goldberg/Flickr)

The UK's home affairs minister has asked the country's migration advisory committee for a “detailed assessment” of the role migration of EU citizens plays in the UK economy, she announced in an op-ed on Thursday (27 July).

“We will be asking the committee to examine the British labour market, the overall role of migration in the wider economy and how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy,” home secretary Amber Rudd wrote in the Financial Times.

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  • Home secretary Amber Rudd said the committee 'will look at the overall picture, moving beyond individual bits of anecdotal evidence' (Photo: Council of the European Union)

She said the committee “will look at the overall picture, moving beyond individual bits of anecdotal evidence and allowing us to make policy on high-quality evidence”.

The move comes more than thirteen months after the referendum on the UK's EU membership, in which 51.9 percent voted to leave.

The British media reported that the final outcome of the report is not expected until September 2018, seven months before the end of the two-year negotiating period with the EU.

Rudd said the committee “will be beginning its work shortly”.

She also said that the UK government will “set out some initial thinking on options for the future immigration system” this autumn, but that the committee's report and “the views of a range of stakeholders” will be taken into account before making any final decisions.

Rudd added that she wanted to “reassure businesses and EU nationals that we will ensure there is no 'cliff edge' once we leave the bloc”.

Timing

Politicians from the opposition criticised the timing.

“It beggars belief that the government have taken a year to get round to asking for expert evidence on the role played by EU nationals in our country,” said Labour MP Heidi Alexander, according to the Guardian.

“The timing of this announcement shows the total lack of preparation and understanding that has typified this government’s attitude to Brexit so far,” the MP added.

Another opposition MP, Ed Davey, from the Liberal Democrat party, said: “The government needs to explain why this study wasn’t commissioned a year ago, directly after the referendum.”

Food supply

The government has received criticism over its apparent lack of preparation from other corners, too.

Earlier this month, three professors from the universities of London, Essex, and Cardiff, wrote a critical report about the government's food policy.

Tim Lang, Erik Millstone, and Terry Marsden wrote that “the prospect of loss of access to EU migrant labour is one of the UK food industry’s greatest concerns”.

The UK food sector is heavily dependent on migrant workers from the EU and the “prospect of ending EU free flow of labour strikes horror into many a farm and food enterprise”, the authors of the report said.

“The government has long been made aware of this, but has failed to indicate if it will address the problem, let alone how,” they said.

The authors concluded that, consequently, the UK's food security is at risk.

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