The liberal internationalists tell us that the woes of the world would come upon us should we end mass immigration into Britain, although, like Lear threatening retribution, (“I will do such things– What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be The terrors of the earth.”) they are unable to say exactly what the woes will be. In fact, I cannot recall ever having seen an article in the British media which goes beyond lazy generalisation about “competing in a global market” or “driving private enterprise abroad”. Let me see if I can make a better fist of analysing what would happen.
To stop mass immigration would require Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the repudiation of other treaties such as the UN Convention on Refugees (UNCR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the repeal of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and the ending of the rules which make it easy for new immigrants to settle in Britain for the purpose of joining relatives already here, for marriage and on compassionate grounds. Consequently, the consideration of the effects of mass immigration has to take in both the practical effects of its cessation on the British labour market and its international repercussions.
The effects on the British labour market
There would be greatly improved employment opportunities for the British. The labour market would tighten and wages would rise. That would place extra costs on employers but they could be offset by a reduction in taxation due to millions of people being employed who are currently unemployed. Nor would wages rise uniformly. Labour would move into those occupations which are essential and which cannot be provided at a distance, for example healthcare and education. We would discover how occupations rank in terms of utility. Wages would rise in those occupations which had most utility to attract staff from elsewhere. This could have surprising results. We might find that vital jobs considered menial now would pay much more once cheap labour could no longer be brought in. This would be justice for the many who have seen their jobs undervalued because of the ability of employers to use cheap immigrant labour.
Employers would respond to labour tightening by using labour more efficiently. Automation would increase and employers would change their attitude to the employment of the long-term unemployed, older people and the disabled. Both employers and government would take vocational training more seriously. Government would provide incentives to employers to train their staff and increase the training of public service professionals such as doctors and dentists. Government would also be forced to tackle the mess which is our public education to ensure an adequately educated workforce.
Employers who could not find the labour to run their business in this country would have to accept they could not do so. No one has a right to engage in an enterprise regardless of the effects on the welfare of the community as a whole which is effectively the present position. Capital which cannot be used in this country can be invested abroad. The balance of payments would be improved by a reduction in money being remitted abroad by immigrants.
The increase in employment of Britons would be an immense social good beyond reducing the cost to the Exchequer of the unemployed, for people are generally happier and responsible when employed .
The pressure on public services, transport and housing would be lessened making access to them easier for Britons. In particular, reduced demand for housing would reduce the cost of purchasing, leasing or renting property for private individuals, public bodies, charities and private companies. An ending of mass immigration would also curtail the substantial cost of providing the benefits of the welfare state to immigrants as soon as they gain the right to legal long term residence in Britain.
Fewer legal immigrants would allow much greater supervision of visitors to Britain – a significant minority of whom are health tourists or who are here for criminal purposes – and a proper control and investigation of illegal immigrants. No more sending suspected illegals to the Croydon reception office under their own speed or leaving ports and airfields with an inadequate or completely absent Borders Agency presence. IThe repeal of the HRA, our departure from the EU and the repudiation of the ECHR and the UNCHR would allow Britain to deport people at will. We could then not only refuse new immigrants but start removing the illegal immigrants who are already here.
Would there be an unmanageable labour shortage?
The idea that Britain is short of labour for most purposes is demonstrably absurd. The official figure for those of working age who are economically inactive in the UK is approximately 9.5 million, or nearly a quarter of the age group. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=12. Clearly not all of those would be able or willing to work, but equally clearly a large proportion would be able and willing to work if the conditions were right, for example, wages rose, employers became more accommodating and the benefits system was tightened as the number of opportunities for work rose. .
The claim that the indigenous population will not do the jobs immigrants take is demonstrably false. In areas of the country with few immigrants native Britons do them willingly. In many instances where foreign workers are employed it is not because native Britons will not work. Take the case of the cockle-pickers who died in Morecombe Bay several years ago it was widely reported in the media that the Chinese cockle pickers clashed with British cockle pickers who resented them invading their territory. These Chinese were not filling jobs which were unfilled by the British but competing with the British for the work.
More generally, one of the great lies of modern British politics is that employers are unable to recruit from the native population, especially for unskilled labour. Vast swathes of work have been effectively denied to the native population by collusion between employers and those who supply labour. This happens both within the indigenous ethnic minorities who only employ from their own ethnic group and within immigrant labour which commonly works through gangmasters who are immigrants themselves. This does not just work in areas such as fruit picking and factory assembly work but in areas such as the NHS where we have the absurdity of doctors and nurses trained in Britain having to go abroad to find jobs because immigrants are employed here.
The other thing which prevents native Britons taking jobs in some parts of the country is the fact that the native Briton does not want to work for employers whose workforce is predominantly formed of immigrants or native-born ethnic minorities. Like every other people, native Britons do not wish to be forced to work in their own land in an employment where they are in the minority, especially where they could find themselves in a situation where the workplace language is not English.
It is also important to understand that the menial jobs immigrants take are worth far more to them than a native Briton. If you earn as little as £200 a week net – many immigrants work cash in hand – and live in accommodation either supplied by an employer or in crowded accommodation for very little rent – you will probably still be able to save a substantial amount, say, £2,000 pa.
If you come from China where wages even in the big cities are 50 pence an hour, you would earn £1,,000 pa for a 40 hour week. Working at a menial job in Britain allows you to save double the average Chinese big city annual wage in a year. That money remitted to China takes on the local purchasing power. The multiplier for Eastern Europeans is less, but even there £2,000 saved in a year would be a good professional salary in places such as Poland. Give native Britons the chance to save the equivalent of a British professional’s salary in a year doing a menial job and they will flock to the work and put up with basic living conditions. Of course, no such employments are on offer to Britons.
As for skilled workers, there are few skills which cannot either be taught in a relatively short time or purchased from people working abroad. There are far fewer absolutely indispensible skills. In addition, many skilled Britons might decide to return because the ending of mass immigration would signal that there was once again a clear distinction between the rights of British citizens and the rights of foreigner. This would alter radically the moral climate in Britain which could have a profound effect on the way in which British émigrés view their homeland.
The international effect
There would almost certainly be a great uproar if Britain ended mass immigration. But the roar would come from a paper tiger because those most affected would come from the Third World with which we have little trade and where Britain’s national interest is rarely if ever at risk.
As a permanent member of the security council of the UN Britain can veto any UN sanctions or even attempts to pass motions to censure her. Britain is also an important member of institutions such as the IMF and World Bank and could cause a good deal of trouble for the nations most likely to need the aid of such organisations.
Then there is the inconvenient fact for critics that no government in the world is officially for uncontrolled immigration. Even more embarrassing, most of the members of the UN have immigration regimes incomparably harsher than Britain has at present. A phrase including glass houses and stones comes to mind.
As for international trade there is no reason to imagine that Britain would suffer. The vast majority of our trade is with the developed world. It is in the self-interest of our trading partners to prevent action against Britain because Britain is not only an important importer but an important exporter. To take just one example, and a very potent one, Britain’s arms industry is one of the largest in the world. The willingness to sell arms is a strong bargaining card with every country on the planet. Britain is also tied into the economies of the developed world through joint projects such as Airbus and the supply of parts to industries such as car-making (a great deal is supplied to German makes believe it or not). The developed world, including the EU, would simply cut off their noses to spite their faces if they took action against Britain. There are also the rules of the WTO agreements which would prevent such behaviour.
What of Britons who are living abroad? It is unlikely their host countries would act against them for the simple reason there are substantial communities of citizens from those host countries resident in Britain. It is also true that most Britons living abroad do so in the developed world, the countries of which are much less likely to expel those legally resident en masse than a third world dictatorship. Moreover, in most cases Britain would have more foreigners of a particular nationality living in Britain than any foreign country has of Britons living in their country. The balance of trade would be very much in Britain’s favour if reciprocal mass expulsions resulted.
Do Britons want an end to mass immigration?
In these politically correct times where people have learnt that to speak against pc orthodoxy is a dangerous thing which can result in the loss of your job or criminal prosecution, it is difficult to get an honest answer to a polling question such as “Do you think post-war immigration has been a good or bad thing?” or “Do you think immigration should be reduced?”, although even with such questions a healthy minority give the non-pc answer.. To get at the truth one has to look at the responses to questions such as “Do you think Britain should be tougher on illegal immigrants?”. These type of questions invariably produces the sort of answer which would have brought a smile to a Soviet apparatchik, commonly being above 80% for tougher action, which is pretty astounding when around 10% of the British population is comprised of immigrants.
It is also noteworthy that concern about immigration has been at the top of issues concerning the British for years; this despite the fact that every mainstream British political party has with the willing collusion of the British media, done everything they can to suppress public debate about the issue.
Anyone who believes that the British people welcomed the post-war immigration and want more of it is self-deluding to the point of imbecility.