The new quarterly migration figures which were released by the Office for National Statistics this week have sparked predictable outrage. Some have even claimed that it’s a blow for the Remain campaign for Britain ahead of June’s In/Out EU referendum.
And since migration is expected to play a key role in Britain’s decision-making process – should we be outraged about the figures considering our involvement with countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq?
In these sorts of issues, it doesn’t hurt to inject a little bit of mathematical fact. Hysterical claims about ‘predatory male refugees invading Britain’ don’t really stack up when, in fact, 34 per cent of asylum seekers are children and 20 per cent are women. In total, asylum seekers make up just 0.5 per cent of the European Population.
Unfortunately, rhetoric is often stronger than truth. It isn’t just the general public who has a negative perception of refugees and migrants, but, according to our own Prime Minister, the refugees living in squalid conditions in the Calais Jungle are in fact “swarms” of people, “a bunch of migrants” just waiting to pour through the border.
Clearly, this is a case of political sensationalism – and in many cases, it seems to be working.
A recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed that 36 per cent of NHS doctors were born overseas. This means that due to high demand, there are more foreign doctors working in our National Health Service than any other major European country.
The influx of refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom have prestigious and specialised skills, provides a golden opportunity for our working population and an excellent boost for our economy. Scotland has responded to this in the right way and progressive plans have been launched in the country, such as the Bridges Programmes, which provide opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees to practice their skills in the UK.
Instead of demonising and isolating foreigners, initiatives like this help foreigners integrate – and provide the proof that their lasting effect on Britain is a positive one.
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, taking in more immigrants would help increase the total number of those who are in work and improve the economy. It has been said that due to our ageing population, we may need millions more immigrants within the 50 years to decrease the unsustainable pressure.
According to the report, “There is clear evidence that, since migrants tend to be more concentrated in the working-age group relatively to the rest of the population, immigration has a positive effect on the public sector’s debt dynamics”. Those are the simple facts.
Most importantly, it seems we have forgotten that in most cases our involvement in other countries is the reason why we have ‘immigration issues’.
Former colonial powers like Britain haven’t paid much-needed reparations to former colonies. As a result, territories were unashamedly exploited by colonial powers in terms of economic opportunity and their own economic growth can be stunted. Evidence suggests that the cost of reparations for Africa alone would cost western powers trillions.
Due to deeply-rooted issues as such, inevitably there will be so-called ‘economic migrants’ migrating to the UK. And due to wars that western powers have caused, joined or supported in the Middle East, a crisis of refugees in need of safe shelter is in full swing.
It is time we honour our responsibility to immigrants and refugees and step away from political sensationalism. Put simply, we must honour the debt we owe to those who have suffered as a consequence of our historical involvement – and do all we can to support those who are seeking a better life in a country less depleted than their own.
- More about:
- EU referendum