After the referendum on the 23rd of June, Brexit voting Brits were labelled and castigated as uneducated and misguided. We were blanket stereotyped with many of the above criticisms and were clearly too stupid in the eyes of the "highly educated" elite to make a decision. Should we think that our Remain voting friends were stupid? Unpatriotic? Un-caring? No, of course not. They had genuine fears that this country was about to head down a terrible path.
These fears of xenophobia and anti-immigrant ethno-nationalism should not be dismissed out of hand. There was a small, but significant, contingent of Brexit supporters who wanted a whiter Britain. It would be a travesty if these ethno-nationalists hijacked Brexit, to be some perverse Neo-Nazi dream. Our grandparents did not fight to let our country be conquered by this ugly ideology, in fact our country was built on waves of migrants moving for better economic opportunity or fleeing persecution. Whether the Huguenots in the 1680s fleeing religious persecution or the Lascars (Indian scholars) migrating to the UK in the 17th and 18th century, every migrant group has shaped this country to make it what it is today. Including my own ancestors, the Huguenots, fleeing persecution in France. Yet for decades, the immigration system of this countries has been warped and distorted, shutting the door on skilled migrants while having no control on selection for 500mn potential migrants. This has to change. On June 23rd we voted to take back control of our borders from EU bureaucrats and to make decisions here in Westminster about how we select the people who get to reside in our great nation.
Yet, we did not vote to take back powers from EU bureaucrats just to let Whitehall bureaucrats enforce the same rules in the same bureaucratic manner. If we truly want to satisfy the will of the people we must build a migration system which is transparent, non-bureaucratic and works for the interests of the British people. Currently to hire a high skilled expert in artificial intelligence on say £100,000, companies need to prove to the government that this type of skilled worker doesn't exist in the UK or the EU. How on earth does a bureaucrat in the home office know whether that skill exists in the UK or not? They don't! Instead of strangling these companies in red tape, why don't we make an immigration system that works with companies and market signals.
Imagine for a moment that we replaced the current system of bureaucratic visas with a market based immigration system. The biggest challenge with immigration is the burden which some migrants put on public services and the wages of the low skilled. What if we designed a system which ensured that every immigrant paid their way, not just the most skilled? What if we designed a system where migrant labour was no longer able to suppress the wages of low skilled workers who are struggling to make ends meet? What if we could do all this while ensuring that every company who needed a worker would be able to hire that worker with having to a bureaucrat in Whitehall that they needed that worker?
We propose a simple combination of policies to create a system which opens our doors to skilled migrants and ensures that all our migrant communities are integrated into British society:
- We propose replacing the migration visa system with a simple annual visa fee system, where employers can pay £5,000 a year for each worker & dependent they wish to sponsor, ensuring that every migrant is a net contributor to society. Raising £10.2bn for schools and hospitals, while removing the incentive from employers to import low-skilled workers.
- In addition the migration system must enable entrepreneurs to bring their ideas and investment to this country. As such, we propose launching entrepreneurial visas for £10,000 a year which enable entrepreneurs and investors to live, work and start up companies in the UK, as if they were a British citizen. Freeing entrepreneurs from regulatory constraints and using this fee will both raise £3.0bn and bring the world's best entrepreneurs to our doorstep.
- Launch an integration fund financing free English classes for all new migrants to enable them to integrate more easily. Breaking down language barriers is the first step to enabling cultural integration.