• Brexit: What will it mean for jobs and immigration?

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  • 22 Feb 2016
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Campaigners debate whether UK economy is safer in or out of EU

Prime minister David Cameron has hit out at pro-Brexit cabinet ministers for claiming that leaving the EU would reduce immigration.

If voters decide to leave Europe, Britain would be forced to continue to allow the EU’s core principle of freedom of movement if it wanted to remain part of the single market, he said on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday. His comments came after he had announced that there would be a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU on the 23rd of June 2016.

After tough negotiations in Brussels on Friday, ministers were quick to start canvassing UK voters to join either the ‘in’ or ‘out’ campaigns.

Six cabinet ministers, including leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling, have warned that if Britain remains in the EU, the country would be “overwhelmed” by migrants, and Britain’s population could soar to 80 million.

But Cameron accused ministers of misleading voters with this rhetoric, as a vote to exit the EU wouldn’t give Britain control on immigration, he said.

“If we were to leave the EU and we were to try to insist on full access to the single market, like Norway has for instance, every other country that's got that sort of deal has had to accept the free movement of people and a contribution to the EU budget,” he said.

“So it could cost jobs, it could mean overseas businesses not investing in Britain. It would be a step in the dark, a real risk of uncertainty and that's just the last thing we need in our country right now,” the prime minister added.

Grayling argued that measures such as the new living wage would encourage even more EU workers to come to the UK. He said Cameron’s negotiated plans to enforce an ‘emergency brake’ to stop migrant workers claiming benefits for as long as seven years, did not go far enough.

“I think we do need to take steps to place some limits on those pressures for the future. We clearly can't do that within the European Union,” Grayling said.

Ministers in favour of remaining in the EU include foreign secretary Philip Hammond, who said “leaving the EU would be a threat to our economic security”. While leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn said: “Being part of Europe has brought Britain investment, jobs and protection for workers.”

Business secretary Sajid Javid said he would vote to remain in the EU as the state of the global markets would make an exit “too risky” for the UK economy.

Javid said: “The fallout from a ‘leave’ vote this summer would only add to economic turbulence that is, quite possibly, about to engulf the world."

“I worked in international business long enough to know that uncertainty is the single biggest enemy of growth," he added.

However, employment minister Priti Patel, said exiting the EU would allow Britain freedom from stringent EU measures and would give the UK back control over its borders.

“British businesses strangled by billions of pounds worth of red tape and regulations being imposed on them by Brussels will be better off if Britain leaves the EU,” she wrote in the Daily Mail.

“An independent and sovereign Britain will be able to control our borders once again. This means that we can introduce the tough measures needed to limit immigration and access to our benefits and welfare system.”

Six cabinet members – John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel – and 15 other ministers have so-far committed to the ‘out’ campaign.

Other ministers and business leaders are expected to announce their positions shortly, although London Mayor Boris Johnson caused the pound to drop in value when he announced he was joining the Brexit campaign yesterday.

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Comments (10)
  • For those asking about what red tape and regulations would be lost, I suggest they read the article in this publication which covers possible employment law changes. Things like Health and Safety protections (48 hour working week) and protections for agency workers, which make it less likely that companies freelance out their workforces. However the conclusion of the article seems to be that probably not a lot will change on these things as we will have to comply with them anyway if we want to continue to be part of the single market. All that changes is we lose any say we have in making the rules! That's one of the reasons we should be staying in and leading Europe, in the face of the massive challenges we all face, rather than trying to tow our island into the Atlantic.

  • There is no workforce planning either in UK or EU, there is no national level matching of needs to resources in any of the issues that are or should properly be in the public realm. We, and too many other nations, seem to think that 'the market' or a market model will solve all problems. Markets are the most inefficient way of getting from a to b in resource management terms. If you know what you want and on what terms you may be able to access several markets. But, this is not the effect of making everything negotiable (i.e. a market). Markets require assets to be held by entities that cannot be certain of purchasers. They are therefore going to do minimal forward planning - serving only immediate needs - and serving only minimally those immediate needs. Do we really want to continue living in this hand-to-mouth market driven society when we know there is a  solid and tested alternative?

  • R.O.Bottomley, could not have stated better myself - well said.

    Martyn Wright, in absolute agreement with you.

    for all intense and purpose, the Immigration crises tipped the barrel of uncertainty for the UK, which is now over flowing into other branches of concern. How can a leading country such as the UK grind to a Marketing, Trading, Business and People movement halt for want of a safer, stronger and united Land....

  • It is sad to see, especially in such a forum, a focus on cost rather than potential. Britain has been enriched by the immigration of talent that has come from Europe and the former colonies. it has been enriched both culturally and commercially and instead of focusing on the cost the discussion should be on how to better harness this potential. Instead of discussing the demerits of Europe, Britain should be vying with Germany for the helm to steer this European Union and shape it with a strategic vision.

    Instead Britain is, by default, stating that it does not feel it can sit at the helm and wants either a special status or to throw in the sponge.

    As a European I am saddened to see the British saying that the dream of having a United Europe is not worth it.

  • I really do not think that a four (or more) year qualification period will dissuade many East European citizens who have decided to make their home in the UK. Then of course there is the probability that the EU will expend to include Turkey and other non-european European countries; just wait til we have a monthly minimum wage about the same as a Turks annual income!!!

  • Sovereignty has long been owed by global corporations, not governments. British government is unable to collect taxes from those companies, as we have seen time and time again, do you really think they will be better equipped to do that after brexit? Red tape? I dare you to provide some examples. The main question is, do you want to be isolated or do you want to be integrated? Do you honestly think you can revive the Empire? People who think that after brevit Britain would be able to get a good deal with EU are like cheating husband who hopes that his wife will forgive him after yet another affair. The ball will be in their court and they will list demands so good luck with that.

  • Yes, we will be a self-governing independent nation again if we vote to leave, but immigration is still a key issue for the majority of the electorate and they want us to have control of our borders and operate an Australian style points based immigration system so the numbers can be controlled and the pressure on public services and housing relieved.

    David Cameron is just plain wrong when he says that we would not be able to re-take control of our borders. The US is in the process of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement and Canada already has, neither country is going to accept the free movement of people from within the EU to immigrate to North America. Norway's deal does allow EU immigration, but Switzerlands's does not. It all depends on the deal you strike with the EU.

    The Billions of pounds of red tape referred to takes account of the fact that 60% of the UK's laws are now made in Brussels, and the various diktats that emerge on everything from the dual pricing of food, weights and measures, to standardised fruit and veg sizes, labelling laws, and the list goes on....

  • Sadly those arguing over immigration issues are missing the point. It is about giving us back out sovereignty and control over our future. Importantly it will free us from the burden of the huge costs of being in the EU, an organisation overburdened with red tape and inefficiency and huge amounts of completely wasted money some of which, as the court of auditors will tell you, cannot be accounted for. These are the reasons, not the emotive issue of immigration. When we resume control of our economy, our laws and our finances the immigration problems, such as they are, will be quickly resolved.

    I should add that the sad spectacle of those 'scaremongering' on both sides of the argument adds nothing to rational debate

  • This is the first time I've heard that even if Brexit happens, Britain will still not have control over their borders if they still wish to have full access to the single market. It seems to me that if Britain wishes to operate outside of the EU, we will still have to operate to EU rules and regulations. The only difference being that they won't be imposed by Brussels, but merely imposed by our own parliament to comply with Brussels. 'Rock and hard place' spring to mind.

  • Could anyone explain what the "billions of pounds worth of red tape and regulations being imposed on them [UK businesses] by Brussels" are and which ones they think are unnecessary and should be removed? I see phrases like this a lot but haven't seen a list of what those opposed to the EU would remove.