We are being deceived – UK already has the powers to control EU migration

UK doesn’t use these powers because the extra jobs (2.2m), extra tax (2014= £14.71b less benefits £2.56b) and £50b a year spending keeps our economy going.


 One of the four freedoms enjoyed by EU citizens is the free movement of workers. This includes the rights of movement and residence for workers, the rights of entry and residence for family members, and the right to work in another Member State and be treated on an equal footing with nationals of that Member State.

There are 4 major arguments in favour of stopping EU migrants exercising this freedom to come and work in the UK. Each of these arguments is untrue.

Claim 1 – “Inability for the UK to control migration into the UK”

The rules and safeguards for the Freedom of Movement can be found here


A summary of these rules are:

Freedom for a citizen of another EU member state to move to the UK applies to

  • Economically active EU-citizens (i.e. working)
    • Plus their families if EU-citizens
  • Non-economically active EU-citizens for up to 3-months
  • Non-economically active (not working) EU-citizens longer than 3-months provided:
    • They can show they have sufficient finance
    • They take out a comprehensive sickness insurance policy
  • FoM does not apply to
    • Non-economically active EU-citizens without funds
    • Non-economically active EU-citizens without sickness insurance
    • EU-citizens who have no realistic chance of working
    • Family members of an EU citizen who is not an EU Citizen may reside in the UK but does not have an automatic right to work
  • Benefits
    • EU-citizens working in the UK acquire rights to benefits after working for a period
    • EU-citizens not working do not have rights to Benefits
  • The UK has the right to restrict FoM through:
    • Suspension of the FoM for up to 7 years from when a new member country joins by
      • Preventing/prohibiting movement or
      • UK can insist upon work permits for each migrant
      • Benefit/Welfare “tourism” is illegal

No-one has been prosecuted to-date as UK is not tracking the issue

UK has, on many occasions, chosen not to enforce these restrictions


There is a view that our politicians have either misunderstood these provisions or deliberately ignored them – read this blog from 2013 by Professor Brad Blitz for his view.

UK chose not to control the 2004 inflow of migrants

Certainly it is true that one of the sharpest rises in net migration came in 2004, when the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined. However it is also fact that the UK was one of only 3 of the original EU members to choose not to apply transitional restrictions on these eight countries   and as such the UK invited this surge.  They could have avoided it if they wished.  Restrictions can apply for up to 7 years after a new member joins the EU and there are provisions to restrict movement if there should be any localised “surges”.

UK does not know or track how many migrants are in the country

It is important to realise that the UK does not know how many EU migrants are in the country, as migrants are not checked or tracked. The numbers provided by Government are estimates only.  The total migrant population is measured through the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Annual Population Survey (APS), which aggregates and supplements LFS data to improve statistical accuracy. The annual movement of migrants is measured primarily through the International Passenger Survey (IPS), which surveys passengers at UK ports, with additional data on migration to and from Northern Ireland and Home Office data on asylum seekers.

The UK could have managed the inflow of EU migrants and chose not to.

Claim 2 – “Need to restrict and /or eliminate so called “Benefit Fraud” and “Welfare Tourism””

An ongoing claim of the anti-EU lobby has been that EU migrants are coming to the UK merely to access public services and the host state’s benefits system.  Indeed the UK Prime Minister Theresa May, when Home Secretary, claimed that these citizens are “benefit tourists.” However, whilst this has not stopped Ms May making this claim, the British government keeps no figures on how many European Union nationals claim welfare payments in the UK and so there is no evidence to back these claims.

Actually, when checked then rather than being a “unacceptable burden” our EU migrants are contributing significantly to the economy, far more than their UK-native counterparts.

A FactCheck study on these claims showed that EU migrants rather than being a drain on the UK bank balance actually contribute significantly, far more than their UK-native counterparts.

According to the European Commission, between 2004 and 2009 free movement from newer member countries increased the GDP of the old EU member countries by almost one percent.

A further study showed that where UK-natives (during 2001-2011) claimed more than they paid in Tax the reverse was the case for EU Migrants who contributed significantly.


So there is no Benefit Tourism that the UK can point to however, even if there were migrants abusing the system as claimed then the FoM directive is clear. The directive enables Member States to adopt the necessary measures to refuse, terminate or withdraw any right conferred in the event of abuse of rights or fraud, such as marriages of convenience.  Article 35 of the directive expressly grants Member States the power, in the event of abuse or fraud, to withdraw any right conferred by the directive.  The Migrant could be removed from the UK as well as prosecuted for Fraud.

The problem would seem to be more one of lack of control by the UK Government rather than “Benefit Tourism” by migrants.

Claim 3 – “Migrants reduce wages and take jobs of the UK-natives”

Another false claim I’m afraid.

This paper from the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at UCL found that immigration depressed wages slightly for the very low paid between 1997 and 2005. But the overall effect over the whole wage distribution was slightly positive.

Another report looked specifically at the period when the UK experienced a surge of EU migration 2004-2006 and found “Despite anecdotal evidence, we found little hard evidence that the inflow of accession migrants contributed to a fall in wages or a rise in claimant unemployment in the UK between 2004 and 2006.”


Research commissioned by the Migration Advisory Committee found that “inflows of working-age EU migrants did not have a statistically significant association with native employment” between 1995 and 2010.

Finally a study Brexit and the Impact of Immigration on the UK concluded:

  • There is also little effect of EU immigration on inequality through reducing the pay and jobs of less skilled UK workers. Changes in wages and joblessness for less educated UKborn workers show little correlation with changes in EU immigration.
  • EU immigrants pay more in taxes than they take out in welfare and the use of public services. They therefore help reduce the budget deficit. Immigrants do not have a negative effect on local services such as crime, education, health, or social housing

Claim 4 – “Unfair pressures on the NHS and public services caused by this uncontrolled mass migration”

This would, on the face of it, provide the most pressing argument in the case against FoM.  Surely uncontrolled migration into an area could and has swamped local services and increased pressure on Public Services such as increased NHS waiting times.

Well, the first thing to consider is that the UK has singularly failed to apply the controls available to manage the movement of migrants, opting not to impose transitional restrictions in 2004 and failing to even track where EU migrants are. The truth is the Government do not know if this is an issue or not.

However, once again, facts disprove these allegations and a study of nationwide immigration data shows that immigration actually reduced waiting times for outpatient referrals. On average, a 10 percentage point increase in the share of migrants living in a local authority would reduce waiting times by 9 days.

A Channel4 FactCheck on the topic concludes:

“The Office for Budget Responsibility accepts the basic point that immigrants tend to improve the country’s finances. A major cut in immigration would mean tax hikes or more spending cuts, the watchdog has said.

This is because migrants tend to be younger and healthier, so they are more likely to be in work and paying taxes and less likely to be retired or to need healthcare.

HMRC recently said that recently arrived EEA nationals paid £3.1bn in income tax and national insurance in 2013/2014. They took out £0.56bn in HMRC benefits.


In 2014 all EU migrants paid £14.71B in taxes and claimed £2.56b in Tax Credits and Child Benefits meaning that they contributed a net £12.15B to the UK purse.

Of course, this kind of macroeconomic analysis cannot capture the experiences of people living in areas that have seen very high levels of EU immigration, so we can’t rule out incidents of pressure on local services.


I think it is pretty clear that there has been a concerted effort to show the FoM in a bad light and our current Conservative Government and Theresa May in particular must shoulder some of the blame for this.

The FoM has increased GDP (by an estimated 1%), has increased tax revenues (by a net £2b over benefits claimed), provided the largest source of labour for an otherwise impoverished NHS and also provided the freedom for 1.4m UK citizens to work or retire all over Europe.

The problems are in the main perceived rather than real and are exacerbated by the sheer incompetence of successive governments and the Home Office (again including the 6 years that Theresa May has been in charge). A failure to implement the available controls, manage or indeed even track the migration of labour into the UK. A shameful state of affairs that has contributed in no small part to the current Brexit debacle.


Looking for a Soft Landing?

Along with at least 16m other Britons (and that number will be growing by the day) I have no confidence that our current Government will be able to navigate through the Brexit nightmare without considerable help.

Please read and share if you agree with the blogs.

Contact me through @britainstays or via comments on this site if you would like to contribute.

Britain Stays!

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Brilliant speech by Sir John Major on Brexit 28/02/2018

Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech at Somerset House in London on 28 February 2018.

I would like to express my thanks to the Creative Industries Federation, Somerset House Trust, and Tech London Advocates for the opportunity to speak here today.

Brexit matters to our creative industries. They express our culture and values – but give so much more.

Nearly 10% of our national workforce is in creative industries. They are often the young – and overwhelmingly in small units up and down the UK.

Job growth outpaces every other part of industry – especially in the Midlands and Yorkshire.

Their exports total over £35 billion a year, but their added value to our country – both economically and socially – is incalculable … and far beyond cash.

Our decision to leave the EU faces the creative industries with a variety of threats that could harm their future, both in financial and human terms.

So I am delighted to be their guest here this afternoon – to talk of Brexit.


For years, the European debate has been dominated by the fringes of opinion – by strong supporters of Europe or convinced opponents. But, as we approach Brexit, the voice of middle opinion mustn’t be overlooked.

I am neither a Europhile nor a Eurosceptic. As Prime Minister, I said “No” to federal integration, “No” to the Euro Currency, and “No” to Schengen – which introduced free movement of people within the European Union but without proper control of external borders.

But I am a realist. I believe that to risk losing our trade advantages with the colossal market on our doorstep is to inflict economic self-harm on the British people.

Of course, the “will of the people” can’t be ignored, but Parliament has a duty also to consider the “wellbeing of the people”.

No-one voted for higher prices and poorer public services, but that is what they may get. The emerging evidence suggests Brexit will hurt most those who have least. Neither Parliament nor Government wish to see that.

The “will of the people” – so often summoned up when sound argument is absent – was supported by only 37% of the electorate. 63% voted either in favour of membership – or did not vote at all.

There was a majority for Brexit, but there was no overwhelming mandate to ignore the reservations of 16 million voters, who believe it will be a harmful change of direction for our country.

Brexit has been the most divisive issue of my lifetime. It has divided not only the four nations of our UK, but regions within them. It has divided political parties; political colleagues; families; friends – and the young from the old.

We have to heal those divisions. They have been made worse by the character of the Brexit debate with its intolerance, its bullying, and its name-calling. I welcome rigorous debate – but there must be respect for differing views that are honestly held.

In this debate there are no “remoaners”, no “mutineers”, no “enemies of the people” – just voices setting out what they believe is right for our country.

In recent weeks, the idea has gained ground that Brexit won’t be too bad; that we will all get through it; that we’re doing better than expected – and all will be well.

Of course we will get through it: life as we know it won’t come to an end. We are too resourceful and talented a nation for that. But our nation is owed a frank assessment of what leaving Europe may mean – for now and the future.

I fear we will be weaker and less prosperous – as a country and as individuals. And – although it grieves me to admit it – our divorce from Europe will diminish our international stature. Indeed, it already has.

For decades, we British have super-charged our influence around the world by our closeness to the US (which policy divisions are lessening); and our membership of the EU (which we are abandoning).

As a result, we are already becoming a lesser actor. No-one – Leaver or Remainer – can welcome that.

We are all urged to be “patriotic” and get behind Brexit. But it is precisely because I am patriotic that I oppose it.

I want my Country to be influential, not isolated; committed, not cut-off; a leading participant, not a bystander.

I want us to be richer, not poorer. Yet every serious international body, including the IMF, the OECD, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research – as well as Nobel prize-winners – forecast we will be poorer outside the EU.

Such forecasts could be wrong, but to dismiss them out of hand is reckless.

Our own Government has assessed our post-Brexit position upon three separate criteria: that we stay in the Single Market; or reach a trade deal with Europe; or fail to do so.

Each option shows us to be worse off: and disastrously so with no trade deal at all. And the poorest regions will be hurt the most.

If, as negotiations proceed, this analysis appears to be correct, that cannot be brushed aside. I know of no precedent for any Government enacting a policy that will make both our country and our people poorer. Once that is apparent, the Government must change course.

Meanwhile, we are yet again told all will be well. Certainly, the recent fall in the value of Sterling has temporarily boosted our exports. The strength of the world economy may even increase our forecast growth this year.

But this sweet spot is artificial. It won’t last. Prosperity isn’t built on devaluation of the currency. More exports on the back of other countries’ economic growth is not a secure position.

The UK has been at the very top of European growth.

We are now the laggard at the bottom. We have become the slowest of the world’s big economies, even before we surrender the familiar advantages of the Single Market.

Our negotiations, so far, have not always been sure-footed. Some agreements have been reached but, in many areas, only because the UK has given ground.

Our determination to negotiate the divorce bill and a new trade deal at the same time was going to be “the fight of the summer” – but instead became an immediate British retreat.

There was to be a “points based” immigration system. There isn’t, and there won’t be.

We were to become the “Singapore of the North”. No more: we have retreated from a policy of lower taxes and de-regulation.

No transition period was going to be needed. But we have now asked for one – during which we will accept new EU rules, ECJ jurisdiction, and free movement of people.

I don’t say this to be critical.

I do so to illustrate that unrealistic aspirations are usually followed by retreat.

That is a lesson for the negotiations to come.

They will be the most difficult any Government has faced. Our aims have to be realistic. I am not sure they yet are.

We simply cannot move forward with leaving the EU, the Single Market, the Customs Union and the ECJ, whilst at the same time expecting à la carte, beneficial-to-Britain, bespoke entrance to the European market. It is just not credible.

A willingness to compromise is essential. If either side – the UK or the EU – is too inflexible, too unbending, too wedded to what they won’t do – then the negotiations will fail.

The very essence of negotiation involves both “give” and “take”. But there are always “red lines” that neither side wishes to cross. In successful negotiations those “red lines” are traded for concessions.

If our “red lines” are held to be inviolable, the likelihood of no deal – or a poor deal – increases. Every time we close off options prematurely, this encourages the EU to do the same – and that is not in our British interest.

A good Brexit – for Britain – will protect our trade advantages, and enable us to:

– continue to sell our goods and services without disruption;

– import and export food without barriers and extra cost; staff our hospitals, universities and businesses with the skills we need – where we most need them;

– be part of the cutting edge of European research, in which British brains and skills lead the way;

– continue with the over 40 FTAs we have with countries only as a result of our membership of the EU.

A bad Brexit – for Britain – will surrender these, and other, advantages.

For the moment, our self-imposed “red lines” have boxed the Government into a corner.

They are so tilted to ultra Brexit opinion, even the Cabinet cannot agree them – and a majority in both Houses of Parliament oppose them. If maintained in full, it will be impossible to reach a favourable trade outcome.

Alarmed at the negotiations so far, the financial sector, businesses, and our academic institutions, are pleading for commonsense policy to serve the national interest and now – fearful they may not get it – are making their own preparations for the future.

Japanese car-makers warn they could close operations in Britain unless we maintain free access to the EU. That would be heart-breaking for many people in Sunderland or Swindon or South Wales.

This isn’t “Project Fear” revisited, it is “Project Know Your History”.

Any doubters should consult the former employees of factories, now closed, in Bridgend, Port Talbot and Newport, where jobs were lost and families suffered.

In 1991, employment by Japanese firms in Wales was about 17,000 people: today, it is 2,000. If free access to Europe is lost – that scale of impact, across the UK, could lose 125,000 Japanese jobs.

Over many years, the Conservative Party has understood the concerns of business. Not over Brexit, it seems.

Across the United Kingdom – businesses are expressing their wish to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union. But “No”, say the Government’s “red lines”.

Businesses wish to have the freedom to employ foreign skills. “No”, say the Government’s “red lines”.

Business and academia wish to welcome foreign students to our universities and – as they rise to influence in their own countries – we then have willing partners in politics and business for decades to come. “No”, say the Government’s “red lines”.

This is not only grand folly. It’s also bad politics.

The national interest must always be above the Party interest, but my Party should beware. It is only fear of Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell that prevents a haemorrhage of business support.

Without the comprehensive trade deal the Prime Minister seeks, we risk economic divorce from the EU, and the chill embrace of a “hard” Brexit with WTO rules.

Leading Brexit supporters believe there is nothing to fear from losing our special access to the Single Market.

But that is profoundly wrong. Swapping the Single Market for WTO rules

would mean our exports facing the EU external tariff, as well as hidden nontariff barriers that could be adjusted to our disadvantage at any time.

A Minister has speculated we might face tariffs of 3%. Not so.

It is more likely that we will face tariffs on cars (10%), food (14%), drinks (20%), and dairy products (36%). Even if a successful negotiation were to halve these tariffs, our exports would still be much more expensive to sell – and this would apply far beyond agriculture and the motor industry.

And if, in retaliation, the UK were to impose tariffs on imports, this would result in higher prices for the British consumer.

If we and the EU agreed to impose nil tariffs – as some have speculated – WTO rules mean we would both have to offer nil tariffs to all countries. That isn’t going to happen.

This is all very complex. But it is crucial. And none of it has yet been properly explained to the British people.

There have been attempts to reassure business by claiming that other nations trade with the EU on purely WTO terms. That statement is simply wrong.

China, the US and Japan all have side agreements with Europe on standards, customs co-operation, mutual recognition and investment. These economic giants did so to protect their own trade even though none of them is exposed as we are – still half our entire exports go to Europe.

Ultra Brexit opinion is impatient to be free of European relationships; to become – in their words – a “global player”, “sovereign”, “in control”. I believe they are deceiving themselves and, as a result, they are misleading the British people.

Before the modern world took shape – their ambition would have been credible. But the world has changed, the global market has taken root, and – if we are to care for the people of our nation – philosophical fantasies must give way to national self-interest. We cannot prepare for tomorrow by living in the world of yesterday.

I don’t doubt the convictions of those who long for the seductive ambition of British exceptionalism. But these sentiments are out-of-date and, in today’s world, wrong.

It is not my purpose to stir controversy, but the truth must be spoken. The ultra Brexiteers have been mistaken – wrong – in nearly all they have said or promised to the British people.

The promises of more hospitals, more schools, lower taxes, more money for transport were electioneering fantasy. The £350 million a week for the NHS was a ridiculous phantom: the reality is if our economy weakens – as is forecast – there will not only be less money for the NHS, but for all our public services.

We were told that nobody was threatening our place in the Single Market. That tune has changed.

We were told that a trade deal with the EU would be easy to get. Wrong again: it was never going to be easy, and we are still not sure what outcome will be achieved.

We were told “Europe can whistle for their money” and we would not pay a penny in exit costs. Wrong again. Europe didn’t even have to purse her lips before we agreed to pay £40 billion to meet legitimate liabilities.

I could go on. But suffice to say that every one of the Brexit promises is – to quote Henry Fielding – “a very wholesome and comfortable doctrine to which (there is) but one objection: namely, that it is not true.”.

People should pause and reflect: if the Brexit leaders were wrong in what they said so enthusiastically before – are they not likely to be wrong in what they say now?

The Prime Minister is seeking a “frictionless” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. She is absolutely right to do so. This is a promise that must be honoured, and I wish her well. But, so far, this has not materialised – nor, I fear, will it – unless we stay in “a” or “the” Customs Union.

Those of us who warned of the risks Brexit would bring to the still fragile Peace Process were told at the time that we “didn’t understand Irish politics”. But it seems we understood it better than our critics. We need a policy to protect the Good Friday Agreement – and we need one urgently. And it is our responsibility to find one – not the European Union.

Although the referendum was advisory only, the result gave the Government the obligation to negotiate a Brexit. But not any Brexit; not at all costs; and certainly not on any terms. The true remit can only be to agree a Brexit that honours the promises made in the referendum.

But, so far, the promises have not been met and, probably, cannot be met.

Many electors know they were misled: many more are beginning to realise it.

So, the electorate has every right to reconsider their decision.

Meanwhile, our options become ever narrower.

We have ruled out full membership. Ruled out the Single Market and Customs Union. Ruled out joining the European Economic Area. Dismissed talk of joining EFTA.

A Norway deal won’t do. Nor will a Swiss deal. Nor a Ukraine deal; a Turkey deal; or a South Korea deal. No, to them all, say the Government’s “red lines”.

So, little is left, except for “cherry picking” – which the EU rejects. Or a comprehensive deal – which will be very hard, if not impossible, to get. So compromise it must be – or no deal at all.

It is now widely accepted that “no deal” would be the worst possible outcome. The compromise must, therefore, focus around our accepting Single Market rules (as Norway does) and paying for access.

Or an enhanced “Canada deal” – and it would need to be enhanced a very great deal to be attractive. The Canada deal largely concerns goods – whereas the bulk of UK exports are services.

But what we achieve to protect our interests may depend on what we concede: it is, as I say, “give” and “take”. If our “red lines” dissolve, our options enlarge.

Our minimum objective must be that “deep, special and bespoke” trade deal the Prime Minister has talked about.

So, some unpalatable decisions lie ahead – with the cast-iron certainty that the extreme and unbending Brexit lobby will cry “betrayal” at any compromise. But it is Parliament, not a small minority, that must decide our policy.

I spoke earlier of the “divisiveness” of Brexit across our United Kingdom. But, in due time, the debate will end and – when it does – we need the highest possible level of public acceptance for the outcome. It is in no-one’s interest for the bitterness and division to linger on.

I see only one way to achieve this.

It is already agreed that Parliament must pass legislation giving effect to the deal. A “meaningful vote” has been promised. This must be a decisive vote, in which Parliament can accept or reject the final outcome; or send the negotiators back to seek improvements; or order a referendum.

That is what Parliamentary sovereignty means.

But, to minimise divisions in our country – and between and within the political parties – I believe the Government should take a brave and bold decision. They should invite Parliament to accept or reject the final outcome on a free vote.

I know the instinct of every Government is to oppose “free votes”, but the Government should weigh the advantages of having one very carefully. It may be in their interest to do so.

There are some very practical reasons in favour of it.

Brexit is a unique decision. It will affect the lives of the British people for generations to come. If it flops – there will be the most terrible backlash.

If it is whipped through Parliament, when the public are so divided, voters will know who to blame if they end up poorer and weaker. So, both democracy and prudence suggest a free vote.

The deep divisions in our nation are more likely to be healed by a Brexit freely approved by Parliament, than a Brexit forced through Parliament at the behest of a minority of convinced opponents of Europe.

A free vote would better reflect the reality that – for every 17 voters who opted for Brexit – 16 opted to remain in the EU.

But, regardless of whether a free vote is offered, Parliamentarians must decide the issue on the basis of their own conscience. Upon whether, in mature judgement, they really do believe that the outcome of the negotiations is in the best interests of the people they serve.

By 2021, after the likely two-year transition, it will be five years since the 2016 referendum. The electorate will have changed. Some voters will have left us. Many new voters will be enfranchised. Others may have changed their mind.

No-one can truly know what “the will of the people” may then be. So, let Parliament decide. Or put the issue back to the people.

And what is true for the House of Commons must apply to the House of Lords. Peers must ignore any noises off, and be guided by their intellect and their conscience.

I have been a Conservative all my life.

I don’t enjoy being out of step with many in my Party and take no pleasure in speaking out as I am today.

But it’s as necessary to speak truth to the people, as to power.

Leaving Europe is an issue so far-reaching, so permanent, so over-arching that it will have an impact on all our lives – most especially on the young and the future. With only 12 months to go, we need answers, not aspirations.

This is far more than just a Party issue. It’s about the future of our United Kingdom, and everyone who lives in it.

That is what matters. That is why I’m here today.

The Fighting Five Hundred

This letter, signed by over 500 concerned citizens, has been sent to The Times in support of the call for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. This will be debated in the Commons on Dec 11th after a petition on the matter was signed by over 120,000 citizens.

If you wish to support this initiative;

please either:

  1. add a comment to this post or
  2. email peter_clarkson@btinternet.com  or
  3. DM @BritainStays providing: Name, email address and how you voted on June 23rd (optional)

Our signatories so far: 1000 citizens pdf 231117

Letter to the Editor

“The Times”



On 11 December, Parliament debates a petition  “to hold a referendum on the final Brexit deal”.  We write to you as a group of one thousand concerned citizens of no fixed political affiliations.

We believe that the case for a referendum on the “deal” to be negotiated by the Government on our departure from the EU is strong, and should be agreed by Parliament.  The original referendum posed a simple question to an issue which is very complex.  The campaign that was then conducted was abysmal on both sides, and presented citizens with information that was misleading or just plain untruthful.  We all know the result but it is worth spelling it out.  An advisory referendum produced a small majority of those who voted in favour of leaving the EU.  The vote to leave represented 37% of the eligible voting population of the country.  Worth noting that the government’s threshold criteria for industrial action which causes disruption to services is 40%.  The referendum result did not meet the government’s own democratic threshold.  This seems to us at the very least, a dubious basis on which to take a decision which will have a significant impact on the life of every citizen, and in particular, the young.

We are not doom-mongers who believe our country cannot succeed economically outside the EU.  However, during the course of the negotiations the government has held with the EU it has become apparent that the transitional costs of leaving have been underestimated, and have not been explained to the people.  Further, apart from the short term transitional costs, we believe that in order for this country to compete economically at the highest level as a single Nation, a massive further and continuing investment will be required in infrastructure, and particularly education and skills for the population.   This need, and how it might be funded has not so far been addressed by any of the parties in Parliament.

But we do not believe the cost to the country should be measured in economic terms alone; departure from the EU to stand on our own will also damage our political standing.  It is not that we will not be able to rely on support on many issues from members of the EU, many of which are of course our partners in NATO.  We will no longer be present at the table when EU positions are discussed.  Rather than being able to influence the nuances of the European position directly, we will find ourselves faced with positions which may not align perfectly with ours.  Nor can we count on always being on the same side.  There are issues that may divide us from the EU 27.  Our position in every global negotiation will be affected, and we may find decisions being taken in spite of our views, simply because we will be easier to ignore, or we will not be able to stand against a consensus in which we are not included.

The vote to leave was predominantly an English vote.  The people of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain.  The unity and possibly the survival of the UK as it is will be weakened if Brexit is driven through on the basis of the EU referendum.  All the people of the United Kingdom deserve to be consulted about any deal negotiated by the government.

We know that the referendum vote was divisive, and it is common knowledge that  many of our politicians now fear that any repeat of the vote, whatever the outcome, will deepen those divisions.  We would argue that a failure to address the deep sense of grievance about the way in which the referendum was conducted will be equally damaging.  If the government calculates that those who did not vote, or who voted in favour of remaining are the more reasonable people who will eventually accept leaving the EU on the basis of the present mandate, we fear they may prove to be grossly mistaken, and the damage to our country’s unity will not heal for a generation, or possibly longer.

By allowing the initial referendum Parliament in effect abdicated its responsibility as the representatives of the people in the EU issue.  That responsibility cannot now simply be taken back.  It is clear that both those who voted to leave the EU and those who voted to remain have doubts about the deal the government is trying to negotiate. The people are entitled to be asked to make a final judgement on the deal.  A vote in Parliament alone will be equally or even more damaging than a referendum in which the population will have been seen to speak for itself.  Full information on the economic cost and the potential political impact on our international standing of the government’s deal, of remaining in the EU and of leaving without a deal should be provided and independently verified, and the people as a whole should make a choice between those options.

Parliament’s initial response to the petition it will debate on 11 December was ill judged.  The wording was peremptory, patronising, and smacked of contempt for serious citizens with legitimate concerns. We believe the people as a whole are entitled to take the final decision.  Only if that is done, transparently and democratically, is there a chance that the divisions the have been opened will be able to heal around the final result, whatever that should be.

We therefore urge Members of Parliament to agree to a referendum on whatever deal (or not) the government negotiates.

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Well done Jeremy, a brilliant result – Now let’s have our cake and eat it!

The UK can control migration from the EU without ending FoM or having to leave the Single Market

Now that the UK seems to have lurched back from the cliff-edge that Theresa May had planned for us I think we have an opportunity to look sensibly at the Brexit options available to the UK and in particular to examine Labour’s approach.

Jeremy seems to be far more pragmatic by pursuing a “Jobs First Brexit” with the retention and creation of jobs taking priority.

This is excellent news – however he is also saying that we need to control migration.  This would seem perfectly sensible until he infers that the only way to get control is by ending Freedom of Movement which in turn means leaving the Single Market.

Actually the UK does not have to end FoM and leave the Single Market in order to control the migration from the rest of the EU.

It will be interesting to actually understand what is meant by “control” as the UK already has a fairly comprehensive package of controls available within the  EU.

We have the powers to control migration. What we need is a leader prepared to implement them.

The controls don’t come without cost.  At present the UK does not track migration from the EU, we let EU Citizens come and go without registering and we don’t require EU citizens to produce EHIC cards when using the NHS.  See what happens if you want to work in Belgium or receive medical treatment in France.

Jeremy has suggested that migration has caused harm at the lower end of the market by “unscrupulous employers” bringing in low paid workers in favour of  British citizens. The evidence for this is pretty patchy however there are mechanisms to stop this if the UK can prove it is suffering harm, at present we can’t show this is happening.

Similarly if there is a surge to a particular region the migration can be halted/suspended to give time for public services etc. to catch up. Again this would require the UK to be able to show that harm is being caused.

Now is the time for a grown up discussion about migration.  We need to decide upon the powers we need to use and then look at the powers we already have.  If there is a gap then we have something real to negotiate for rather than silly wish lists and populist rhetoric.

Jeremy – now is your time.


References and links can be found in WE ARE BEING LIED TO