Has Brexit affected the way Britons think about immigrants? The recent ‘national mood’ on immigration

Interesting analysis of immigration-related public opinion data and Brexit:

Back in 2018, I wrote a piece showing how British public opinion on immigration had changed since the 1980s by analysing responses across waves of repeated, high-quality research surveys carried out in Britain. Then, the research showed that British opinions toward immigrants and immigration had been softening dramatically over the last decade since a peak in public hostility around 2010.

Recently I was able to update this information with a plethora of new results from the British Election Study (BES), the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, and the European Social Survey (ESS) which were fielded over the past two years. Figure 1 below shows what has changed since then, and how the new information has impacted the model’s estimation of the ‘national mood’ about immigration.

The line represents the proportion of survey respondents in each year answering negatively when faced with questions regarding their views on immigrants and immigration. The grey line running through the middle of the plot cuts the y-axis at 50% – half of the population having negative feelings toward immigration, with the other 50% holding a more positive perspective. The aggregation is carried out using Jim Stimson’s dyad-ratios calculator, which is able to standardise different survey measurements on the same topic. From this, individual survey items can be ‘blended together’ into a single series, such as above. (The code to run Stimson’s calculator in R can be found on my GitHub repository).

What the updated data shows is that the dramatic decline in anti-immigrant sentiments, which had reached a peak (in the study) around 2010, has continued up to the conclusion of the decade. According to the data analysed in this study, a majority of the British public now have positive views toward immigrants and immigration.

When I posted these results on Twitter, they became the subject of quite some discussion among various Brexit tribes (bot supporting and against), with much conversation surrounding the impact that Brexit (and specifically, the campaign) may or may not have had on feelings toward immigrants in this country. It is toward this debate that I wish to turn the rest of the article – namely, did Brexit cause an increase in anti-immigrant hostility in Britain?

Firstly, the evidence is quite clear that neither the Brexit campaign nor Brexit itself has caused any increase in negativity or hostility toward immigrants or immigration in the aggregate sense. There is nothing in the public opinion data, presented here or indeed elsewhere, that I have seen which would support the hypothesis that Brexit has unleashed some kind of wave of anti-immigrant hostility when we look at the nation as a whole.

However, the emphasis above is intended and important. There is nothing to say that just because aggregate levels of hostility toward immigration among the British public have declined, that there could not have been a simultaneous hardening or strengthening of negativity since Brexit among those with deep-rooted, very hostile opinions about foreigners in Britain. Both of these things could be true. Similarly, this measurement is not one of racism, or individual experiences/incidents of racism or indeed discrimination on the grounds of immigrant (origin) status.

Finally, Brexit might not have caused a rise in aggregate anti-immigrant hostility, but there is also little evidence to suggest that it caused this drop. For one, attitudes have been softening since 2010, and Brexit comes right in the middle of this near-linear decline. That said, the rate of decline has clearly accelerated since 2016, so perhaps there is some merit in the suggestion the Brexit vote may have ‘released some frustration’ regarding policy/control over matters of immigration among the population.

Inspecting the quarterly data also gives us some further, more nuanced insight into what the various narratives around Brexit might have done to attitudes surrounding immigrants and immigration. Figure 2 shows a more detailed snapshot of Figure 1, with 100 survey items analysed from 2009 to 2019.

Note: the mean level of sentiment here has shifted downward from in Figure 1, where the series included here and other series stretching back further into time anchor the overall trend line around 5-10% higher.

Here we see in greater detail the average decline in negativity from the turn of the last decade, with the peak around 2010 followed by something more resembling a jagged mountain face than a cliff edge. The sharp, short-term peaks in anti-immigrant mood as we travel down the ten-year slope are seemingly clustered around important electoral events surrounding Brexit: the 2014 European Elections won by UKIP, the build-up to the referendum itself in 2016, the General Election in 2017 where Theresa May sought a parliamentary majority for her Brexit plan, and then the 2019 election campaign featuring Boris Johnson’s pledge to “get Brexit done”.

Are these moments of intense scrutiny and pressure on Brexit producing these little sparks of negativity among the British public? It seems reasonable to think so – around these moments, media coverage and political commentary around immigration (specifically in relation to the EU) intensifies, parties actively campaign against the current immigration regime, and voters may be connecting immigration closer to their voting intention than they otherwise might, and respond to survey questions accordingly.

Whatever the case, what is certain is that these moments of upturn in the data do not last long. Once the moment passes, the decline in negativity continues – and even arguably picks up pace. Furthermore, given that margins of error apply to these aggregated figures just as much as they do to individual polls, the various quarterly spikes within the last ten years could just be statistical noise.

So, did Brexit cause an increase in anti-immigrant hostility in Britain? There is little evidence in the public opinion data analysed here to suggest that it did – particularly in the medium term. Did it, on the other hand, cause a big increase in positivity? Again, I would argue that it did not. Brexit has coincided with a plummet in British negativity about immigration, the start of which proceeded Boris Johnson’s successful attempt to pass a Brexit deal through the Commons, the referendum itself, and Nigel Farage’s electoral successes in the early 2010s.

In short, I would say that Brexit has not much at all to do with what Britons think about immigration.

Source: Has Brexit affected the way Britons think about immigrants? The recent ‘national mood’ on immigration

Sadiq Khan urges EU to offer Britons ‘associate citizenship’

Not sure how this would work or the likelihood of the EU agreeing:

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will use a trip to Brussels to implore EU negotiators to be open to continued free movement for Britons through “associate citizenship”.

With the backing of the former prime minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt, Khan said the offer of such rights to those who wish to retain them should be at “the heart” of the coming negotiations over the future relationship.

The idea of “associate citizenship was first raised in late 2016 by Verhofstadt, who was then the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator.

The offer would be of continued freedom of movement and residence around the bloc for those who wished to retain such rights. Such a status would also protect rights in healthcare, welfare and workplace conditions and likely the right to vote in European parliament elections.

The chances of such an initiative making headway in the negotiations are extremely limited as it would be unlawful under EU legislation.

There is unlikely to be appetite for any rewriting of treaties among the 27 member states, given the UK government’s hostile attitude to the free movement of EU nationals who wish to live and work in Britain.

Khan, who will also meet the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the European parliament’s president, David Sassoli, during his visit on Tuesday, said he believed the idea still had merit.

“Like so many Londoners, I am heartbroken that we are no longer a member of the European Union, but that doesn’t mean our country’s future can’t be closely linked with the rest of Europe,” he said.

“The prime minister says his job is to bring the country together and move us forward and I cannot think of a better way of reconciling the differences between British voters who wanted to leave, and the millions of Londoners and British nationals who still feel and want to be European.”

Khan added: “There would be support from millions of Londoners and British nationals who are devastated they are losing their rights as EU citizens. As the UK and EU start their next phase of negotiations, I want this issue of associate citizenship to be at the heart of talks about our future relationship.”

Attempts by UK nationals in EU member states to argue in the courts that the loss of citizenship and its associated rights was a disproportionate and unjust consequence of Brexit have all failed.

Verhofstadt, who has the backing of the European parliament to be chair of a new conference on the future of Europe involving all the EU institutions, said he believed that Brussels should be open to the concept.

“The Maastricht treaty created the concept of ‘European citizenship’ and I am in favour of using this now as a basis for people who want to keep their link with Europe,” he said. “It is the first time in the history of our union that a member state leaves, but it is not because the UK government wanted exit that individual citizens have to lose their connection with the continent.”

Source: Sadiq Khan urges EU to offer Britons ‘associate citizenship’

Brexit, the most pointless, masochistic ambition in our country’s history, is done

An eloquent, pointed and valid rant by Ian McEwan:

It’s done. A triumph of dogged negotiation by May then, briefly, Johnson, has fulfilled the most pointless, masochistic ambition ever dreamed of in the history of these islands. The rest of the world, presidents Putin and Trump excepted, have watched on in astonishment and dismay. A majority voted in December for parties which supported a second referendum. But those parties failed lamentably to make common cause. We must pack up our tents, perhaps to the sound of church bells, and hope to begin the 15-year trudge, back towards some semblance of where we were yesterday with our multiple trade deals, security, health and scientific co-operation and a thousand other useful arrangements.

The only certainty is that we’ll be asking ourselves questions for a very long time. Set aside for a moment Vote Leave’s lies, dodgy funding, Russian involvement or the toothless Electoral Commission. Consider instead the magic dust. How did a matter of such momentous constitutional, economic and cultural consequence come to be settled by a first-past-the-post vote and not by a super-majority? A parliamentary paper (see Briefing 07212) at the time of the 2015 Referendum Act hinted at the reason: because the referendum was merely advisory. It “enables the electorate to voice an opinion”. How did “advisory” morph into “binding”? By that blinding dust thrown in our eyes from right and left by populist hands.

Australia rejects visa-free immigration deal with UK

Canadians advocating for a FTA with a post-Brexit UK should note. In any case, UK will most likely be fixated on addressing all the issues related to the EU to devote much serious time to other countries:

The Australian government has turned down the UK’s offer of a post-Brexit trade agreement that included visa-free work and travel between the two countries.

Trade minister Simon Birmingham said full free movement would not be accepted because it could cause an exodus of highly trained workers to the UK and an influx of unskilled British workers to Sydney and Melbourne. Last year, ministers in New Zealand voiced similar fears of a brain drain.

Last September, international trade secretary Liz Truss, on a visit to Australia, announced that a plan to allow British citizens to live and work in the country visa-free could be just months away.

She said: “We’ve been clear on the fact we want to adopt the Australian-based points system in terms of our new immigration system as we leave the European Union… our two countries have a special link and a historic relationship, and it’s certainly something that we will be looking at as part of our free-trade negotiations.”

But even then, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, said the visa-free arrangement with New Zealand was not something that would be extended to other countries.

Birmingham said yesterday: “Negotiations for an FTA [free trade agreement] between Australia and the UK will prioritise enhancing trade with a market that is already our eighth-largest trading partner.

“Work and visa settings may also form part of discussions but it is important to appreciate that there is a huge spectrum of grey between the black and white of no movement or unfettered movement.

“Once talks are launched with the UK we will work through all of these issues in the usual way,” he said.

Under existing arrangements, Australians can visit the UK for six months as a tourist without a visa.

A visa, however, is required to do paid or unpaid work for those born after 1983 and don’t have a parent who is a UK citizen (or was a UK citizen at the time of the traveller’s birth).

Chetal Patel, partner at City law firm Bates Wells, said the rejection of the UK proposal was a setback for the UK government: “Although bilateral trade discussions are ongoing, the news that the Australian government has rejected a visa-free arrangement serves as another stark reminder of the challenges the UK faces post-Brexit. It’s also a significant rebuke for the new administration considering the introduction of visa-free arrangements seemed to be almost a foregone conclusion just a few weeks ago.

“Surely work visas and other visas should be decided separately from the UK’s trade negotiations?

“This development ultimately begs several questions. What kind of approach will the government take in negotiations with other states given that the Home Office may now be completely restructured? Is the liberalisation of free movement as previously mooted by Boris Johnson and free marketeers going to be the guiding principle of immigration policy? Or does this episode suggest that preferential arrangements with certain other nation states will no longer be pursued?”

Patel said it would be interesting to see the impact of the Morrison government decision on the Australian-style immigration points based system to be implemented in the UK. “We’re expecting the Migration Advisory Committee’s report to be published at the end of this month, so we may know more about what’s in store very shortly,” she said.

About 120,000 people born in Australia are UK residents, with the largest concentration being in south-west London. About 2,000 Australians work in the NHS.

Source: Australia rejects visa-free immigration deal with UK

From UK ex-pat to EU citizen: A huge rise in Brits getting another EU passport

Good summary of the numbers. Would be interesting to see the percentages of UK citizens applying for EU member citizenship:

A new study conducted by Oxford in Berlin and the WZB – Berlin Social Science Center has revealed that the number of Brits receiving German citizenship has risen by over 1000% since the Brexit referendum in 2016: While 622 British citizens received German citizenship in 2015, numbers jumped dramatically to 7,493 ‘naturalisations’ in 2017 and predictions for 2019 are higher than all previous years.

Figures released by the OECD for the whole continent show a similar trend of Brits acquiring another EU citizenship with a rise of 600% in ‘naturalisations’. With Brexit, deal or no–deal, all British citizens living in the UK or elsewhere stand to lose their European citizenship rights such as freedom of movement or recognition of qualifications. Obtaining the nationality of an EU member state is a way for British citizens to guarantee maintaining EU citizenship rights that many peoples professional and personal livelihoods over the years have come to depend on.Rachel from Loughborough who gained dual citizenship in 2018 and now lives in Berlin says:

Getting German citizenship has given me a whole new confidence and security that I had lost.

The study conducted by Oxford in Berlin and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) interviewed British citizens who have arrived in Germany over the last decade with a wide sample in social background, age and profession. The huge spike in post-2015 naturalisations (both UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK) is marked by the survey data as almost entirely motivated by the Brexit referendum.

According to migration researcher and co-author of the study Dr. Daniel Auer:

These dramatic jumps tell us we’re onto a significant social phenomenon here whose implications are yet to be understood.

If there were to be a no-deal Brexit at the end of this month, new applications for German citizenship from British citizens would require them to give up their UK citizenship because German law stipulates that only EU citizens can acquire dual-nationality.    Therefore, those Brits that want to maintain their European citizenship rights will have to give up their British citizenship, a heart-breaking and impossible prospect for many.

Alex, a start-up business owner who moved with his wife and two children from the UK to Germany in 2013 said:

We are being hung out to dry by the politicians from both sides. With my German language level, I’d have no chance of securing German citizenship and even if I could in the future, I wouldn’t want to give up my British passport. I just have to trust the German Government to keep their word and not kick us out.

While the legal consequences of Brexit remain so uncertain, people like Alex and Rachel – along with more than 5 million other EU or UK migrants on both sides of the channel – are taking often large risks to do whatever they can to mitigate the pending impact of Brexit on their lives.

Source: From UK ex-pat to EU citizen: A huge rise in Brits getting another EU passport

Boris Johnson’s dramatic immigration u-turn leaves 2.5m uncertain of their future

Ongoing train wreck:

Less than a month after Boris Johnson officially became the UK’s prime minister, his government has announced changes to the status of EU citizens after the current deadline for UK withdrawal from the EU – October 31, 2019.

The new home secretary, Priti Patel, has said that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on that day, then free movement will end immediately for all EU citizens in the UK.

This has caused much anxiety and confusion among the almost 3.5m EU citizens in the UK – 2.5m of whom have not yet registered for settled status, having been given a deadline of 2020 to get it done.

The previous government, led by Theresa May, made very different promises to these people. They were told that the UK wanted to “guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain … as early as we can.”. It appears that the new government has gone back on this promise.

EU citizens are still welcome to visit the UK for short trips without a visa. However, anyone planning to stay long-term after October 31 will be subject to proposed new rules if the UK leaves without a deal. So what is being planned by the new government in case of a no-deal for EU citizens?

Change of plan

Ending free movement on October 31 means that there would be no grace period for anyone who arrived after this date. A previous transition period was set to last until December 31, 2020. During this time, EU citizens arriving after Brexit day would enjoy the same rights as those who were there before.

Now, EU citizens would be subject to the planned new immigration system immediately.

The Department of Health has also said that after October 31, 2019, without a deal, NHS trusts will have to start to charge EU citizens for previously free treatment. This would mean NHS trusts would need to check the immigration status of EU citizens seeking treatment. This proposal has already been criticised by the British Medical Association. It would add more work to an NHS already under great strain.

Aside from anything else, the plan has been criticised for being impractical. The previous government admitted in January 2019 there needed to be some time between the end of freedom of movement and a new immigration system coming into force. This is because it would be difficult for employers, universities, landlords and others to distinguish between pre-exit residents and post-withdrawal arrivals. In particular, businesses have said it will make it difficult for them to recruit workers.

What do EU citizens need to do now?

The advice from the Home Office to EU citizens wanting to stay in the UK beyond October 31 is to apply for settled or pre-settled status under its EU Settlement Scheme. This has been officially open since March 30, 2019. However, there are some concerns about this, too.

Just over 1m applicants have already been granted settlement under this scheme. That’s approximately 30% of the eligible population.

For those who have already applied or who are in the UK before October 31, there should be no problem. However, there will probably be disruption for those who arrive after November 1. They will not be eligible to apply for settlement.

There will also be disruption for those who do not apply for EU settlement in time (and there is not much time left) and want to change jobs or move house after Brexit. Employers and landlords would be required to check these individuals’ immigration statuses, and it could be difficult to distinguish if they arrived before or after withdrawal.

There are serious concerns around certain groups of vulnerable individuals who will have most difficulty applying successfully for EU settlement, such as children without a passport, women in abusive relationships or those who simply cannot read English.

Of the approximately 3.5m EU citizens in the UK, there are still 2.5 million who have yet to apply for EU Settlement. It is unclear how many of them are vulnerable. I have previously highlighted that if large numbers of individuals become illegally resident after a certain cut-off date (for example, if free movement ends on October 31) anyone who does not have settled status but is still in the UK then could be illegal, and expelled automatically.

Furthermore, this could affect British citizens in the EU. The current arrangement for this group of approximately 1.3m people is based on reciprocity. But ending free movement on October 31 would mean British citizens in the EU would also lose their rights to stay in the EU. In the rush to end free movement as soon as possible, rights of British citizens in the EU seem to have been forgotten.

Another Windrush?

A leaked Home Office discussion document has already noted that it would be practically difficult to enforce an immediate end to free movement because of various complexities in establishing the system. In particular, it warned of a repeat of the Windrush scandal.

While the end to free movement will only become reality if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on the newest deadline of October 31, the deadlock between the EU and the UK suggests a growing likelihood of no-deal – especially under Boris Johnson’s new government. It is cold comfort for EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU that once again citizens appear to be the bargaining chips for negotiations between the EU and the UK.

Source: Boris Johnson’s dramatic immigration u-turn leaves 2.5m uncertain of their future

Worried UK employers call for changes to proposed immigration reform

Echoes earlier concerns by the business community:

A coalition of British industry groups and education bodies, worried by the prospect of Brexit worsening skills and labour shortages, has called for the next prime minister to relax proposed reforms of the immigration system.

The #FullStrength campaign said on Wednesday it had written to both Boris Johnson, frontrunner to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister, and his rival, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, calling for the government they would lead to lower the salary threshold proposed in draft immigration legislation from 30,000 pounds to 20,000.

In December, Britain set out in a policy paper the biggest overhaul of its immigration policy in decades, ending special treatment for European Union nationals.

Concern about the social and economic impact of immigration helped drive Britain’s 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.

#FullStrength brings together bodies including London First, techUK, the British Retail Consortium, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, UKHospitality, the Federation of Master Builders and Universities UK. Collectively they represent tens of thousands of businesses and employ millions of workers across all sectors and regions of Britain.

Their joint letter said more than 60% of all jobs in the UK currently fall under the proposed 30,000-pound salary threshold, highlighting the risk in setting the future level too high for vital services such as health and social care.

The coalition also wants the government to extend the temporary work route for overseas workers from one year to two years, revise the sponsorship model to make it easier for firms of all sizes to bring in the overseas talent they need, and reinstate the two-year, post-study visa for international students to work in Britain post-graduation.

“Without the ability to access international talent, many of our world-class sectors are at significant risk,” the joint letter said.

“As the UK prepares to leave the EU in the near future, it is imperative that the government puts in place measures that will avoid employers facing a cliff-edge in recruitment, and works towards building a successful economy that is open and attractive.”

Johnson has pledged that Britain will leave the EU with or without a transition deal on Oct. 31 if he becomes prime minister, while Hunt has said that he would, if absolutely necessary, go for a no-deal Brexit.

Source: Worried UK employers call for changes to proposed immigration reform

Brexit ‘causing’ more British nationals to become Irish

Common trend across most EU countries:

The number of British nationals applying for Irish citizenship has risen significantly since the Brexit referendum almost three years ago.

Irish citizenship ceremonies were first introduced in 2011, and for the first four years applications from Britons averaged about 60 a year.

In 2016, the year of the Brexit vote, there were 568 British applicants.

The number grew to 860 in 2017 and last year more than 1,200 Britons applied to become Irish citizens.

Irish citizenship applications from British nationals

Year Number of applications
2012 55
2013 62
2014 46
2015 73
2016 568
2017 860
2018 1,213
(1 Jan – 30 May) 2019 607
Source: Irish Department of Justice

The upward trend appears to be continuing this year.

More than 600 applications had been received by the end of May. That figure is expected to rise during the latter half of 2019.

The figures mirror the flood of applications for Irish passports.

In the year before the Brexit vote, there were more than 46,000 applications from Great Britain, but last year that more than doubled to over 98,500.

The current minimum waiting time for a first-time passport application from Great Britain is 72 working days – nearly three and a half months.

Irish passport applications from Great Britain

Year Number of applications
2008 46,105
2009 46,870
2010 43,464
2011 42,337
2012 45,646
2013 42,441
2014 43,449
2015 46,229
2016 63,453
2017 80,752
2018 98,544
(January – March) 2019 37,258
Source: Irish Department of Foreign Affairs

Applying for Irish citizenship is a separate and distinct process from applying for an Irish passport, but in order to get an Irish passport, you must first be an Irish citizen.

Irish citizenship can be acquired in a number of ways – through place of birth; Irish descent; marriage, adoption or naturalisation (the length of time an applicant has been resident in Ireland).

Citizenship is automatic for many people, such as those born on the island of Ireland before 2005 or those with a parent who is an Irish-born citizen.

Others must apply to the Department of Justice for citizenship.

While attending the most recent citizenship ceremony in April, Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan remarked on the “significant numbers” of applicants originating from the UK.

Just over 300 British nationals were among the 2,400 new Irish citizens congratulated by the minister.

BBC News NI asked the department if it was linking the recent rise in British applications to the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

A department spokesman agreed the figures showed an increasing pattern since the referendum in June 2016.

“It is reasonable to attribute this steady rise in applications from British nationals over the last three years to concerns around the outcome of the Brexit process,” the spokesman added.

Among Ireland’s new citizens are Welsh ex-pat Laurie Kearon and “Lancashire lass” Stephanie McCorkell.

Both women have a similar story to tell.

Both have lived in the Republic of Ireland for decades, retaining their British passports and identity. But fears over Brexit prompted them to seek Irish citizenship.

British nationals are the second biggest group of non-Irish residents in the Republic of Ireland.

The most recent Irish census, carried out in April 2016, found there were just over 103,000 residents who described themselves as British.

In immigration terms, they were outnumbered only by Polish citizens who totalled more than 122,500 in April 2016.

Top 10 non-Irish nationalities living in Ireland

1 Polish 122,515
2 British 103,113
3 Lithuanian 36,552
4 Romanian 29,186
5 Latvian 19,933
6 Brazilian 13,640
7 Spanish 12,112
8 Italian 11,732
9 French 11,661
10 German 11,531
Source: Irish Census 2016

Up until the year after Brexit, British nationals made up just a tiny minority of those seeking a declaration of Irish citizenship.

In 2012 for example, the Dublin government issued more than 25,000 certificates of Irish nationality to people from around the world, but just 85 of those documents (0.3%) were granted to Britons.

In 2013, when more than 24,000 certificates were issued, just 55 (0.2%) were given to British people.

But between 2016 and 2017, the number of successful British applicants rocketed by more than 400%, increasing from 98 certificate recipients to 526.

The number increased again last year, when 687 British people received certificates of nationality from the Irish government.

Certificates of Irish citizenship in numbers

Year No. of certificates issued to British nationals Total certificates issued around the world Certificates issued to British nationals as a % of total
2010 97 6,325 1.5%
2011 70 10,796 0.6%
2012 85 25,110 0.3%
2013 55 24,240 0.2%
2014 51 21,100 0.2%
2015 54 13,561 0.4%
2016 98 10,036 1.0%
2017 526 8,195 6.4%
2018 687 8,226 8.4%
Total 1,723 127,589 1.4%
Source: Irish Department of Justice

So far this year, the Irish Department of Justice has issued 312 certificates of Irish nationality to British applicants, and we’re not yet half way through 2019.

It used to be the case that anyone born on the island of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, was automatically entitled to Irish citizenship and therefore EU citizenship.

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement, an international peace treaty, gave those from Northern Ireland the right to identify as Irish or British or both.

But by 2004, the Irish government said the law was being exploited by “citizenship tourism”, claiming that foreign women were travelling to Ireland in late pregnancy in order to get an EU passport for their babies.

It called a referendum, in which Irish voters overwhelmingly backed the tightening of the rules, with 79% voting to end the automatic citizenship right for all babies born in Ireland.

Source: Brexit ‘causing’ more British nationals to become Irish

From archaeologists to vets, UK widens list of desired immigrants

Reality intruding as the Brexit mess continues:

Britain needs a wider range of immigrants to tackle shortages of workers ranging from archaeologists and architects to vets and web developers, government advisors said on Wednesday, just days after figures showed immigration had fallen to a five-year low.

Britain is reviewing its immigration system as it prepares to leave the European Union, which allows almost unrestricted free movement of workers between its 28 member states.

More than 3 million foreigners have moved permanently to Britain since 2009, despite the government’s aim to reduce net migration to 100,000 a year, and this was a top worry for voters at the time of 2016’s referendum to leave the EU.

However, in its first full review of job shortages in five years, the government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said shortages of workers in Britain’s economy had increased since 2013, as unemployment had fallen to its lowest since 1975.

The body, made up mostly of academic labor market economists, recommended that jobs similar to those done by 9% of workers in Britain should be put on an immigration shortage list, up from less than 1% in 2013.

“The expansion comes mainly from the wider set of health and IT sector jobs included,” the report said.

The MAC’s recommendations are not binding, but the government has generally followed previous suggestions.

Inclusion on the ‘shortage occupation list’ would mean employers no longer needed to prove they were unable to hire a British worker to do the job, and shortage workers would have priority over some other immigrants if quotas applied.

Businesses welcomed the recommendation from the body, which has already urged the government to lift a cap on high-skilled immigrants, but had upset some firms by opposing a new category of post-Brexit visa for low-skilled EU workers.

“Our research shows that three-quarters of firms are currently unable to find the talent they need, and vacancies are being left unfilled,” the British Chambers of Commerce said.

However Migration Watch UK, a body that wants less immigration, called the new job shortage list “astonishing”.

“The MAC seems to have turned 180 degrees from its previous emphasis on encouraging employers to recruit domestically through improved wages, better conditions and boosted training,” Migration Watch’s vice-chairman, Alp Mehmet, said.

Stricter border controls were Britons’ top concern at the time of the 2016 referendum, but this has now fallen to third place, behind funding public healthcare and education, according to recent polling by market research company Kantar.

Nonetheless, some 42% of Britons still want to restrict EU citizens’ future rights to live in Britain after Brexit, while only 33% wanted to preserve them.

Source: From archaeologists to vets, UK widens list of desired immigrants

Is the British Home Office creating two tiers of Irish citizenship?

Of interest, as the UK grapples with the implications of Brexit and Northern Ireland:

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) explicitly states that people born in Northern Ireland are unique within the UK in having the birthright to identify as Irish or British or both.

However, the British Home Office is now arguing through the courts that the people born in Northern Ireland are “automatically British” as they were “clearly born in the United Kingdom.”

This is not a cosmetic assertion, it’s not merely a quibble over language or intent. Making citizens of Northern Ireland automatically British against their wishes has profound implications for their lives and for the future stability of the peace there.

Critics contend that the Home Office is essentially forcing British citizenship on Irish citizens born in Northern Ireland – citizens who identify as Irish by birth and by choice.

They are also forcibly countering an option that the people of Ireland north and south voted in record numbers for in the Good Friday Agreement referendum in 1998.

Take the example of an Irish national who holds an Irish passport, and who was born in Derry. The position of the Home Office is that they are a dual British/Irish national, but if they would like to fully retain and access their rights as an Irish and E.U. national in the U.K. they would have to “renounce” their British citizenship and rely solely on their Irish citizenship. Even if they have never claimed British citizenship. Even if they do not hold a British passport.

Source: Is the British Home Office creating two tiers of Irish citizenship?