One of the principle arguments often made for remaining in the European Union is the quid-pro-quo nature of ‘free movement’ which, in reality, is more myth than fact. It is often made when those who make the case to leave the union highlight the inability of the UK to prevent the entry of unlimited numbers of EU citizens, regardless of their status.
The point is regularly and rightly made that inward migration to these isles has exploded over the last ten years and is currently running at unsustainable levels. Over 617,000 people came here in 2015 and 632,000 in 2014, with the net figure for Non-British nationals a staggering 362,000 last year, a level that is being maintained and may well get bigger. To counter this, despite its irrelevance of the effects of net inward migration, those arguing to remain prefer to muddy the waters by saying that the ‘so called’ free movement, as espoused by the EU, benefits the British citizen in equal measure. Normally accompanying this assertion is a helpful number appropriately massaged to suggest that two million Brits live and work in the EU and that this ability to go elsewhere to work is entirely due to the concept and application of ‘free movement of peoples’ as applied by the European Union to it’s member states.
Significantly, the part about it being because of the European Union is demonstrably incorrect.
‘Free movement’ EU style would seem to have no benefit at all over movement of any other kind because world migration figures clearly show that movement of peoples between the UK and other countries that are not members of the EU is every bit as active and sizeable as the ‘free movement’ from within the EU yet, also allowing the implementation of a UK admissions policy which is a process not possible from within the EU.
Movement around the world for us Brits seems to be a pretty easy thing to accomplish as we have been doing it for decades. So where do we go? More Brits have migrated to the West Indies than to Denmark, Malta, Austria, Greece, Luxembourg, Hungary, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Croatia and Estonia put together. The West Indies are not in the EU whereas all the others are. Over 1.25m British have migrated to Australia, 678.000 to the USA, 603,000 to Canada, 215,000 to New Zealand and 212,000 to South Africa. Migration to these countries alone is almost twice that of UK citizens who have migrated to all the other EU countries added together.
In fact, from the figures one could easily conclude that the EU version of free movement, when it comes to the British leaving home, is more of a hindrance than a benefit though it is far more likely that language is a much bigger factor in migration motivation than any artificial directives produced by the ruling class of the European Union.
[envoke_twitter_link]It is clear then, that ‘Freedom of Movement’ as created by the EU is, at best irrelevant and at worst actually obstructive[/envoke_twitter_link] to British people migrating away from home, whether that be for work or retirement.
An additional misleading narrative often use to support ‘free movement’ as a benefit to the British is the large number of people who have migrated to Spain, some 761,000. It is dutifully ignored that this exodus comprises largely of retirees, not all, but the vast majority. As it happens this is of much more benefit to Spain than it is to the UK. In an economy that is struggling with astronomical unemployment figures the ‘Brits on the beach’ are a godsend to the Spanish. They take no Spanish jobs, pay Spanish taxes with UK money and simply spend for the benefit of local businesses and government alike. The Spanish, I’m sure, are fully aware of this and the fact is that it constitutes a sound reason to remain welcoming regardless of whether or not the British leave the EU political union.
So, we know that the EU version of free movement, as far as it is helpful to Brits migrating away, is a neutral factor at best but, how does unfettered access to the UK affect us and just how reciprocal is it?
Before moving on it’s worth taking an overall view of populations and space. All the other EU countries together have a total population of 444m. The UK has a population of 65m so the other EU countries have just over six times as many people. Also the other EU countries have a combined area of 1.635,668 square miles and the UK just 94,054. The EU then, is over 17 times larger in area than the UK. This combination of people and area make the UK the fourth most crowded country in the EU, twice that of Poland, two and a half times that of France and four times that of Ireland. Only Malta, the Netherlands and Belgium have less capacity.
The issue with EU membership is that its form of ‘free movement’ gives the UK no option to refuse entry for any reason to EU citizens. The figures shown earlier strongly indicate that even if this mandatory ‘free movement’ position were to be dropped it would not overly influence overall migration between EU states but would allow the UK to slow the influx as it is one of the countries most affected by unrestricted movement. Having a firm rule that is unsupported by the evidence is a sure sign that it’s about political ideology and not pragmatism.
[envoke_twitter_link]The UK has always been a welcoming place for immigrants[/envoke_twitter_link]. The serious problem began when much poorer countries got unfettered access to a functioning economy and a country with a reputation for fairness and justice. When people came from Eastern Europe any semblance of reciprocity was lost completely and the influx was more akin to an invasion as opposed to ‘free movement’ for both.
141 times more Poles came here than went there, 37 times more Romanians, 5 times more Italians and even 2.5 times more Germans. Where it matters ‘free movement’ is simply a one-way exodus which is not helpful for either country.
With such information to hand it is bizarre as to why the EU doesn’t simply drop their version of ‘free movement’ or apply it in a measured manner so that one country isn’t swamped by another. Mass immigration has been brought to the fore in the UK and may well be a definitive factor in the leave side winning the argument.
The inescapable conclusion is that free movement would happen anyway as clearly shown by the wider migration picture and that the EU intransigence causes countries to suffer unnecessarily as they are unable to instigate controls. Such a bureaucracy that, simply won’t see sense, is unsuited to its role and for the UK the only way is out, onwards and upwards.