The problem with this whole issue is that it falls outside the control of the trade part of the issue and into the politicised immigration issue. Dealing with that issue gets tied up in knots. No-one really knows what the Brexit EU worker plans are.
Every time I consider the issue of EU nationals currently in the UK, I always come back to the same concern of a possible catch-22 situation arising. Whatever the Brexit EU worker plans are, it has to be something that we consider carefully rather than bulldozer through Article 50. The impact on UK industry is potentially vast, and expecting the public of the UK and EU to sit on their hands for two years is, frankly, ridiculous.
By letting the whole EU referendum be distracted by Nigel Farage posing in front of propaganda dominated by the immigration issue, we inextricably linked issues together that didn’t always need to be linked. Immigration has been blamed for housing shortages, job shortages, and so much more.
But there is no simple solution, and UKIP should not be allowed to keep encircling cogent political debate in a big yellow bulldozer, mowing down each Brexit EU worker to stop them coming to the UK altogether.
Let’s start off with one clear main goal of the Brexit side of the argument: lower the net migration and control the boarders. There have been calls for capping immigration, using more points-based systems, and controlling the boarders completely. However, this is complicated by the fact that any border that exists has two sides. The UK should not expect to be the sole custodian of the borders.
When it comes to the Brexit EU worker plan, a lot of people are assuming that the rules that are currently in place for skilled workers from outside EU/EEA should be applied to Brexit EU worker. This would demand that unskilled or low skilled work is reserved for UK workers, and skilled work requires employers to first try to employ from within the UK.
Much easier said than done, when there is a vast glut of skilled workers in the UK.
The construction industry is one of the best examples of this issue. There is a substantial lack of UK construction training and education as a result of decades of under-investment and an over-politicised education system. As more and more EU migrants took the jobs there was a growing tension between each Brexit EU worker, and each unemployed person in the UK. It is not too much of a leap for an ignorant minority to make an unsound link between “unemployment” and “net migration.”
Combine that with the housing shortage, and the strain on the NHS and education system. All of these were apparently the result of the net migration so they could all be addressed – in part, at least – by reducing net migration.
Or so the Brexit side said during the EU referendum.
EU Worker Plans for Building Solutions
I have discussed in the past about Brexit EU Workers the potentially devastating blow to the food production industry and the NHS before. However, let’s illustrate the problem with the construction industry in a similar way.
If the motivation remains politically dominated by the desire to reduce net migration in order to address the housing shortage, it would seem – in simplistic terms at least – that less people means less demand for housing. However, with the natural birth-rate alone, we still need more houses. If curb or even reverse Brexit EU workers numbers we then create a bigger problem with a gap in our skilled construction work force. Who is going to build the houses we need?
So the housing shortage continues to be a problem – probably even more of a problem because if we aren’t coping now, even with all our skilled, EU trained builders, how on earth can we imagine ever being able to catch up? It’s okay saying “we need to train more in the UK,” but we are at least a generation or so behind. If we currently have 124,000 homeless children in the UK we need housing quickly. Since the architects of the failure to build new housing are the same ones in command of the Brexit plans…
…let’s not get too excited just yet.
So turning away a large part of our work force now, or even over the next two years, can surely do nothing but harm to the industry we need to address the problem.
Whatever the Brexit EU worker plans might be, we should not be fooled by any notion of quick-fix solutions the Brexit voters hope for. And don’t forget the white paper even forced Theresa May to reveal the truth about Brexit: it won’t really affect migrant numbers much at all for quite some time.
We no true foundation for most of the Brexit plans, Theresa May can’t build confidence by threatening to bulldoze our workforce out based on broken promises.