Government Calls In Experts To Examine EU Migrants’ Role In UK





Experts will be called in to launch a major assessment of migration from the

European Union as the Government steps up its efforts to devise a

post-Brexit immigration system.


Home Secretary Amber Rudd will commission the Migration Advisory Committee

(MAC) to carry out a detailed analysis of the role of EU nationals in the UK

economy and society.


The in-depth study will focus on patterns of migration from Europe,

considering factors including regional distribution, skill levels and

seasonal workers.


Writing in the Financial Times, Ms Rudd said any new post-Brexit immigration

system must work in everyone’s interest.


She said: “Put simply, the UK must remain a hub for international talent.

We must keep attracting the brightest and best migrants from around the



“I want to reassure all those who have outlined their views … that the

Government is listening and that we share their desire to continue to

welcome those who help make the UK such a prosperous place to live.”


Advisers will be tasked with examining issues such as the economic and

social costs and benefits of EU migration, and the potential impact of any

fall in arrivals from the bloc.


The committee will be asked to report back by September next year – seven

months before the scheduled date for Britain’s formal departure in March



It will be invited to produce interim reports before giving its final

findings, as officials attempt to draw up a regime that incorporates an end

to free movement while ensuring any fall in overseas labour does not damage

the economy.


Writing to Professor Alan Manning, chairman of the MAC, the Home Secretary

will say that under a future system “we will be able to apply different

immigration rules and requirements according to the UK’s economic and social



The MAC will be asked to examine:


:: The current patterns of European Economic Area (EEA) migration, including

which sectors are most reliant on EU labour;


:: The economic and social costs and benefits of EU migration to the UK



:: The potential impact of a reduction in EU migration and the ways in which

both business and the Government could adjust to this change;


:: The current impact of immigration, from both EU and non-EU countries, on

the competitiveness of UK industry and skills and training;


:: Whether there is any evidence that the availability of unskilled labour

has led to low UK investment in certain sectors;


:: If there are advantages to focusing migrant labour on high-skilled jobs.


Josh Hardie, deputy director general of business organisation the CBI,

welcomed the move as a “sensible first step”, saying the review will be

“vital” to address longer-term questions.


“Businesses urgently need to know what a new system will look like – during

transition and afterwards,” he said.


But ministers faced questions over the gap between the referendum in June

last year and the request to the MAC.


Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said: “The Government

needs to explain why this study wasn’t commissioned a year ago, directly

after the referendum.


“The NHS, businesses and universities that depend on European citizens need

answers now, not in another 14 months’ time.”


As well as the MAC’s work, talks will be held across sectors including

business, industry, trade unions and educational institutions in the coming



Official statistics show net long-term migration for EU citizens – the

balance between arrivals and departures – was running at an estimated

133,000 last year, a fall of more than a quarter on 2015.


Overall international net migration, including from outside the EU, was also

down at 248,000 in 2016, although the measure remains well above the

Government’s target of below 100,000.


Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “This is a

very welcome step.


“While the contribution of many EU migrants has clearly enriched the UK,

recent polls have also highlighted how strongly the public feel about the

need to control and reduce immigration.


“The MAC’s guidance will be vital in helping to ensure that this is done in

a sensible and practical way.”


Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was not aware of the new report but

believed in “the value of immigration and the value of having an open

approach to it”.


Speaking at a press conference in Sydney during a visit to Australia, Mr

Johnson said: “As a society, as a city of London, we benefited massively

from having talent come to our shores. We benefit from a large Australian

population, we had 400,000 French people living in London when I was mayor.


“It is fantastic for the energy and dynamism of the economy … That doesn’t

mean you can’t control it. That is all I think people want to see.


“They want to see their politicians taking responsibility, explaining the

policy, explaining what they are trying to do, explaining who can come in on

what basis and why it’s good for the economy.”


He added: “I think there are things we could do to reduce some aspects of

immigration whilst keeping a posture that is open and attractive to talent.


“I would be very, very surprised if any report says otherwise.”


Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “There is far too much heat and not

enough light about immigration, so any truly objective and well-informed

analysis must be welcome.


“We already know that immigrants, both EU and non-EU, make a huge

contribution to the economy and to wider society. They occupy both

high-skilled, high-wage jobs and lower-skilled, lower-paid ones, adding

value across a wide range of economic sectors. They help make the UK more

internationally competitive, and sectors with staff shortages, such as the

NHS, social care and agriculture, would be in serious difficulty without



“The report should be published. There must be no repeat of the buried Home

Office reports into international students, or the Saudi funding of

terrorism. And there should be no attempt to reform the immigration system

until the report has been published and debated.”