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d) The Brexit campaign has made a strong link between immigration and UK housing shortages. There is a link, but not the one that UKIP likes to stress. The UK construction industry is facing a major skills shortage. Whether it is building by housebuilders for sale or the rapidly developing Build to Rent market, we are hugely dependent on overseas labour, particularly from Eastern Europe.
Although this blog has concentrated on the economic case, broader political and security considerations are important.
Many of you are aware that I worked for six years in Russia and still have strong links to the region. Vladimir Putin’s regional ambitions make me profoundly nervous. David Cameron’s comments about war in Europe have been widely derided, but the consequences of instability in Eastern Europe cannot be ignored. A “leave” vote would have significant financial implications for the EU, the impact of which would be most strongly felt in the East. UKIP and its ilk demonise Eastern Europe over immigration to the UK, but fail to recognise at all the benefits of the region looking West rather than East. The Baltic States, in particular, have significant Russian populations. Unless you believe Nigel Farage and the swivel-eyed, dribbling, right wing that the EU “caused” Russia to invade Ukraine, you should be afraid of instability in Eastern Europe. Providing opportunities to work here is an important element of this, which raises the issue of immigration.
Those who argue in favour of greater controls over immigration from the EU seem reluctant to acknowledge that many in the UK want to work or retire in the EU and that these rules would cut both ways. There are many British people living in Spain, undoubtedly putting a far greater strain on their health service than the the migrants coming here who are generally of working age and healthy.
So to sum up the argument, the pro-Brexit campaign is backing us into a position where its views on immigration mean that the most likely scenario post exit is a trade agreement with the EU based on or very close to the WTO MFN. The best estimate of the consequences of this I have seen is the PwC forecast of 600,000 fewer jobs and £100 billion loss of GDP by 2030. If you think that this, and diminished security, are a price worth paying to introduce some nebulus control over immigration and an even vaguer idea of sovereignty, then vote out. I do not, and that is why I will be voting IN.
This is a personal blog by John Forbes. John Forbes Consulting LLP has spent no money on the production of this blog or on any other activities in respect of the Referendum. As such, we are not required to be registered with The Electoral Commission.