Monday, 23 February 2009

Immigration Curbs

Under fire Home Secretary Jaqui Smith, a woman who looks so similar to an ex of mine that I find it disconcerting, is proposing to stop 'tens of thousands' of 'highly skilled' immigrants from outside the EU from coming to work in the UK.

This strikes me as something of a populist reaction to the concerns of UK workers who were facing redundancy recently when a foreign company won a contract in the UK and promptly shipped (literally) a workforce in from abroad. The UK workers rightly threw Gordon Browns statement of "British jobs for British workers" back in his face.

The irony is of course that in this instance, the foreign workers were from inside the EU and not from the outside, so her protectionist measures would have achieved nothing whatsoever.

The whole thing strikes me as a tad frothy given the global recession, and I wonder just how many people outside of the EU were actually planning to come here to work over the next year or two. I know two highly skilled Australians that have recently returned home because the pay and conditions were far better there than here.

No doubt immigration will fall because of the financial climate and Westminster will attribute this to their shiny new policy.

The only mention of EU immigration (ie the type of immigration that caused such an adverse reaction to the workers down south) comes here:

"The Government also plans to change the laws regarding the deportation of EU citizens convicted of sexual, violent and drugs crimes. At the moment EU citizens can only be deported if they are given a jail sentence of two years or more. Ms Smith said that she intended to reduce this to 12 months."

I'm not sure what it takes to get a 12 month sentence these days never mind two years, but I suspect it would have to painfully serious, especially here in Scotland where Kenny MacAskill's abhorence of jailing criminals means that it is unlikely many will fall into that category.

All in all, I suspect that this proposal is more spin than substance, but time will tell.

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