Immigration Policy from Post-War to Post-Brexit: How New Immigration Policy can Reconcile Public Attitudes and Employer Preferences
As Britain prepares to leave the EU immigration policy has come to the top of the policy agenda. The Brexit vote was seen as a vote against free movement and new policies are aimed at introducing more restrictive controls. The report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in September 2018 recommended little new provision for low-skilled migration post-Brexit (MAC, 2018). This was then adopted by the Home Office in its Immigration White Paper, published in November 2018 (Home Affairs Committee, 2018). The White Paper explicitly references public concerns that migrant labour reduces opportunities for British workers and undermines their pay and conditions. Yet employers have argued that they need to be able to continue to recruit lower, as well as highly skilled labour because the supply of British workers is insufficient. The paper explores the likely impact of proposed restrictions on immigration post-Brexit, using data from NIESR studies of employers and of the general public. It combines an assessment of what is needed to meet the needs of employers, the economy and to address public concerns, finding that there is more consensus than there is often considered to be.