Immigration is a hot topic in the EU debate and it is not always dealt with well. Cllr Mick Lerry, Leader of Sedgemoor District Labour Group thinks it’s important to tackle this key issue head on and here puts the Labour case. So what are the issues?
Well, for one, if a particularly large number of immigrants and EU citizens arrive into any community, it can sometimes be hard for public services to cope. Schools and doctors’ surgeries get oversubscribed and there is a sense of loss of control. A community can change in nature without residents having much of a say.
These are sensitive issues and politicians have a duty to address them. But we should not lose sight of the advantages of immigration. Immigrants will often do the menial jobs that many workers are reluctant to take on. Immigrants can also be very talented. Have you ever heard anyone say we must not let a brain surgeon from Italy, a scientist from Germany, or a Dentist from Poland come to work in the UK?
Social Care would collapse without Migrant Labour
In many parts of the United Kingdom the NHS and Social Care would collapse without immigrant labour. The truth is that immigrants give much to the domestic economy.
EU immigrants pay their taxes like the rest of us, they spend money on food, accommodation and transport; indeed all the goods and services we spend our money on, which all contributes to Britain’s economic growth.
Some people say immigrants are taking our jobs. You could equally argue that they are creating jobs, just in the same way that our spending and their spending fuels the economy.
There is one other big factor we should not forget – we have an ageing society, the number of older people as a group is growing. Older people earn less or nothing at all, they pay less tax or maybe nothing, they are paid pensions and they often need a strong National Health Service. I am not decrying older people; they have done their bit and deserve a comfortable retirement in old age.
The truth is that the bills of dependants, children and the elderly have to be met by the workers of today. The more people we have of a working age, means that more cash is generated. It may not always be obvious, but a Polish Dentist paying income tax in the UK and VAT on what he or she spends in the UK, is helping to fund the pensions of British senior citizens.
Let’s not forget that pressure on housing; education and public services, such as the NHS are the result of failed domestic policies, such as austerity, cuts in budgets and neglect.
Free Movement works both ways
Leaving the EU while keeping access to the single market will not stop the free movement of workers – as it is a founding principle of the EU and will be a prerequisite of any trade deal struck if the UK leaves.
If you don’t believe me, just look at Norway, to get access to the single market it pays into the EU fund, obeys all the rules including free movement of people. As a trading country Norway has no say about anything and has no voice at the EU table, but obeys all the rules.
British Values mean rejecting Prejudice, hatred and blame
Lets make sure that the values of British people, such as democracy, freedom, justice, the rule of law and prosperity for the future generation are retained in the European Union. Lets us reject prejudice, hatred and blame. Britain’s future place is best served by remaining part of the EU, so that Britain can be safer, stronger and more prosperous and have more influence in the world. Britain should be leading a strong Europe, not isolated and alone.
Cllr Mick Lerry
Leader of the Labour Group on Sedgemoor District Council
19th June 2016