As an immigration solicitor I would like to jump up and down and shout that exiting the EU will not be a solution to the “Immigration problems”. In other words, Do we want to be Switzerland or Norway?
The first thing to say is that leaving the EU does not automatically mean ending free movement and hence the large scale migration from the EU. If we want to be in the single market and want to follow the Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein model, we will remain subject to free movement provisions. If we wish to be Switzerland, then we will have to realise that we will have far more EU migrants and if we want to have quotas on the number of EU nationals we will receive, then we must remember that Switzerland was told by the EU that they cannot have quotas.
If we really wish to be completely in control of immigration policy, then it requires not just Brexit but also an understanding that it will mean excluding ourselves from the single market. Even then, we will have to negotiate some arrangements with EU countries if only to safeguard the position of a large number of EU nationals who are already here and are unlikely to be deported and UK citizens who live in European countries. Let’s face it, repatriating large numbers of pensioners from Spain is currently impractical.
Assuming we have achieved it all, then what will the new immigration policy
be? UKIP was talking of an Australian style point system but in 2008 this was exactly what the Government said it was introducing. BBC News told us on 9th September 2008 that a list of UK jobs was open to workers from outside the EU as part of the point based migration system. Being an immigration solicitor for over 21 years, I remember this and this particular list included nurses, consultants, engineers, English teachers. Even then, the Tories said it was pointless without an annual cap on the number of immigrants entering the UK.
What is the idea behind the point based system?
If we are to look at the model in Canada and Australia, we will see that they introduced these as a way of targeting growth in the overall numbers of the population and human capital. They wanted more immigration, the opposite of our objective and the reason we sought to leave the EU.