CS3 - Immigration to the UK
What is the impact of the UK being a ‘magnet for immigrants’?

1. A too attractive country?
• For mostly economic reasons
- The main reasons are economic pull factors (economic growth & flexible labour market) to a developed country from as or less developed countries. It’s true for the brain drain and for lower skilled workers from A8 countries planning to send remittances.
- Intellectual pull factors (prestigious universities like Oxford or Cambridge) attract students, the second category.
- A more historical pull factor is UK’s links to the Commonwealth whose nationals have an affinity with the English language and culture. So Commonwealth diasporas in the UK can help family members to integrate.
=> A changing immigration
- Immigration massively increased with inflows which nearly doubled between 1995 and 2005 reaching approximately 600 000 people annually
=> The foreign-born (formerly + newly arrived immigrants) population living in the UK doubled in 20 years
+ Moreover, main origins progressively shifted from Commonwealth source countries, such as India, to A8 nationals, like Poland. Diversity increased and Britain is ever more cosmopolitan, multicultural.
=> A stricter immigration policy
In 2013 David Cameron Conservative government promised to limit immigration to 100,000 people and implemented a stricter immigration policy for non-EU immigrants. By 2016, the target had clearly not been reached (mainly due to EU nationals) and the sensational media coverage of the 2015-2016 Calais refugee crisis, emphasized the issue.

2. The subsequent debates
• Prejudice versus integration
Traditional prejudice focused on racial issues as CW immigration was high and ethnic minorities are highly visible in a multicultural society.
New prejudice focuses on EU immigrants’ social class as they are a less visible White community. The idea that economic capital (wealth) means integration is wrongly associated with social (networks) and cultural (education) capitals. affluent
+ Economic uncertainty
Many British voters think that competition from immigrants reduces their wages and job opportunities whereas it was caused by the 2008 global financial crisis and a slow economic recovery. Some accused EU immigrants to put pressure on the Welfare State (accusation of ’benefits tourism’) although on average they are more skilled and employed and so pay more taxes than the British.
=> Brexit, 17 June 2016
Consequently in the run-up to the referendum of June 17 2016 to stay in or leave the EU, the Leave supporters or Brexiteers led by Nigel Farage the nationalist UKIP’s leader and Boris Johnson the charismatic former London’s mayor played on those fears, which probably led to Britain’s vote for Brexit, alongside the government unsuccessful restrictive immigration policy (PM David Cameron was a Remain supporter).