Why is the UK so against immigration?

Great Britain relies on an elitist immigration system

"There are too many immigrants here" was one of the main arguments in favor of Brexit for many Britons. And in return, the government in London promised since the referendum in 2016 to throttle the numbers from over 200,000 per year to a few tens of thousands. Now she is presenting the new regulation, according to which only well-trained and better-earning applicants can receive residence rights and work permits in Great Britain. In addition, EU citizens and applicants from other parts of the world should be treated equally.

The drawbridge is being pulled up

The basis of the new immigration regulation is a points system based on the Australian model. Anyone who has a job offer from a British company receives 20 points. If it is a question of a qualified job, there are an additional 20 points. A good command of English earns 10 points and a further 20 are credited for an annual salary of 30,000 euros or more. Each applicant must achieve a total of 70 points.

Interior Minister Priti Patel has admitted that her own parents would no longer come into the country under the new system

"We are redefining our policies," said Interior Minister Priti Patel. "We only want the brightest and best. The days of cheap, unskilled labor are over". The conservative ruling party is thus fulfilling its election promise to regain control of the borders after Brexit. For example, the number of Eastern European workers in the UK construction industry will decrease. Delivery truck drivers, cellar workers, cooks - less well-trained workers who keep life going in restaurants, hotels and the service industry in major British cities will not be able to get immigration permits under the new system.

There should be an exception for the health system alone: ​​the state NHS lacks around 50,000 nurses and 20,000 doctors. The government has yet to come up with a plan of where and how to recruit them. Boris Johnson talks about training your own strength. But there is no plan for that either, and it would take years. However, it remains to be seen whether medical staff from the EU will still be interested in a job in Great Britain after Brexit and under changed conditions. Most recently, 5,000 nurses from European countries had already left the British system.

Agriculture in particular fears that it will no longer find harvest workers

Harvest workers stay outside

The government brushes aside the concerns of some industries that fear a future labor shortage: "British companies will have to adapt to the end of freedom of movement," said the Home Office paper. However, new exceptions are already being introduced for particularly sought-after professions such as plasterers on the construction site or carpenters.

This is due to a change in strategy: Great Britain has virtually full employment, but it suffers from extremely low productivity - it is around 15 percent below the value of the other G7 countries. Investments in innovations in production are also below average. Up to now, it has been cheaper for companies to hire cheap and easily redundant workers instead of modernizing production processes. Now the economy is to be rebuilt towards more modern, less labor-intensive models.

However, there are areas where this mechanism fails: For example in agriculture, where there should be visas for seasonal workers, but who have to leave the country immediately after their assignment. Last year, thousands of tons of fruit and vegetables rotted in the fields due to a lack of interest among Eastern European workers. It is uncertain whether they want to come at all in view of the new restrictions and the uncertain exchange rate for the British pound.

Elderly care problem

The care of the elderly is particularly affected: The service union Unison is already sounding the alarm: "It will be a disaster for care". Semi-skilled, poorly paid workers work almost exclusively in this sector. There is already a shortage of 120,000 geriatric nurses and the operators of the homes have to close departments and entire houses due to a lack of staff.

They too are calling for an exemption because they do not feel reassured by Interior Minister Patel's reprimand that around eight million Britons are not active in the labor market. The previous financing models do not give significantly higher salaries and the reputation of care for the elderly is so bad that the British can hardly be won over, according to the Association of Nursing Institutions.

"Historical moment"

Home Secretary Priti Patel praised the reorganization of immigration as "a historic moment for the country", bringing immigration under British control "for the first time in decades". But that's only true if you don't look at the facts so closely. Because there was always a controllable part of immigration, namely immigration from non-European countries. In 2018, net immigration from EU countries had already fallen to around 74,000, while around 250,000 immigrants from non-European countries sought their fortune on the British island.

The British service industry is the pillar of the domestic economy - many EU citizens work here

In previous years, the ratio was usually balanced - with the around 50 percent non-EU migrants, control would have always been possible. Even Theresa May made great promises during her time as Interior Minister and wanted to reduce immigration to five-digit numbers. But she never tried to turn this adjustment screw either.

It was former Prime Minister Tony Blair who, in 2004, became the first EU government to open its doors to workers from the new Eastern European member states. All others used the transition periods agreed upon when they joined. The influx - in 2006 the number had already risen to around 100,000 - helped it to generate an economic boom, especially in the construction and service sectors. Instead, today's conservative government is resolutely heading in the opposite direction.