EU citizens lose priority under post-Brexit immigration plans

Hard to know whether this is part of the UK’s negotiating strategy, internal Conservative party politics, or substantive policy proposal. And of course, reciprocity works both ways, with impact on UK expatriates in Europe:

EU citizens will no longer be given priority to live and work in Britain in a radical overhaul of immigration policy after Brexit, Theresa May has said, admitting Britons may in turn have to apply for US-style visas to visit and work in Europe.

The prime minister said the terms of the final deal with the EU could include mobility concessions, but insisted that would be within the control of the British government.

Announcing the policy overnight, May said it “ends freedom of movement once and for all”, and that British tourists and workers would also be likely to face restrictions travelling in the EU, depending on the final outcome of the Brexit talks.

However, when questioned during a morning tour of broadcasters about the difficulties UK citizens might face when travelling to Europe, she would only say it was “part of the negotiations”.

She did rule out Britons having to apply for US-style visa waiver forms to visit the EU after Brexit, saying she expected arrangements to be “reciprocal”.

Under the policy, she said, highly skilled workers who wanted to live and work in Britain would be given priority, while low-skilled immigration would be curbed, though the final terms are expected to be subject to the Brexit negotiations.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, May said she was not ruling out mobility concessions as part of a future Brexit deal, and that tourism and business travel were a component of the negotiations.

“In any trade deal countries do, there are normally parts of that which are about things like movement of businesspeople, and so forth,” she said. “But if we do a deal like that with the European Union, those elements will be open for trade deals with others as well.”

May said the government wanted British people to fill the vacancies in areas such as hospitality and social care, which rely heavily on EU migrants, effectively ruling out an exemption for certain sectors.

“We’ll ensure we recognise the needs of the economy,” she said. “If you look at these low-skilled areas, we hope there will be the ability to train people here in the UK to take jobs.”

May said the government was already piloting a seasonal scheme for agricultural workers but said she was reluctant to commit to exemptions for other sectors.

“I’m not saying there are suddenly going to be lots of sectors of the economy which are going to have exemptions, which means you no longer have an immigration policy,” she said. “This is reflecting what a lot of people in this country want.”

The regime is likely to be popular with the Tory grassroots, many of whom have been been making their unhappiness felt at the annual party conference over May’s post-Brexit trade proposals.

The announcement came before a speech at fringe event by the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a harsh critic of the prime minister’s Brexit plans, which was expected to dominate the third day of the conference in Birmingham.

May said in a statement announcing the policy: “For the first time in decades, it will be this country that controls and chooses who we want to come here. For too long people have felt they have been ignored on immigration and that politicians have not taken their concerns seriously enough.”

May said the system would reduce low-skilled immigration and bring net migration down to “sustainable levels”, a coded reference to the “tens of thousands” manifesto pledge made eight years ago that Conservatives have thus far been unable to meet. “We retain our commitment to that target,” she told Today.

The proposals follow a report from the government’s Migration Advisory Committee, which recommended that visa applications from highly skilled workers be given priority over those from low-skilled workers.

The committee also said that offering concessions on immigration to the EU could be “potentially something of value to offer in the negotiations”, though it did not formally recommend this.

The government has said it intends to publish a white paper next year and a bill the following year, meaning it is highly likely MPs will not get to vote on the legislation before the UK leaves the EU in March.

Downing Street said there would be “routes for short-stay business trips and tourists and for those who want to live and work for longer in the UK” as well as passport e-gates to make travelling faster for short-stay visitors.

In-country security checks would be carried out to make operations faster at passport control, similar to the prior-authorisation system used by the US, and applicants for working visas must meet a minimum salary threshold and have their families sponsored by their future employers.

Adam Marshall, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Ministers must recognise that businesses in every corner of the UK are facing severe skills gaps at every level, and must be able to recruit great people from both here at home and from overseas.

“Immigration policy is not just about the ‘best and brightest’, but straightforward access to the skills needed to help grow our economy.”

The home secretary, Saijd Javid, will announce further details of the policy in a speech timetabled for midday on Tuesday, an hour before Johnson speaks.

Johnson is expected to urge the party to focus on law and order, tax cuts and housebuilding as well as restating his opposition to May’s Chequers proposal.

May said she expected Johnson’s fringe meeting to be “lively”, but was focused elsewhere.

Asked how long she expected to remain Conservative leader, May told Today: “I’m in this for the long term, not just for the Brexit deal but actually for the domestic agenda we are setting out at this conference.”

Source: EU citizens lose priority under post-Brexit immigration plans

Here’s how to beat the populists: stop talking about immigration

Not sure whether this approach will be anymore effective but it does have the advantage of addressing the more fundamental and broader threat of populism to the rule of law:

While the British Brexit debate rages on, it continues to ignore entirely a more important European political battle: the search for the best way to defeat populists on the continent within the next eight months – the time left before the EU parliamentary elections. That little of this seems to get factored into internal British discourse is not surprising: for all the headlines about Theresa May’s “Salzburg humiliation” or “EU dirty rats”, Brexit is essentially the British talking to themselves.

Across the Channel, a new line of attack against Europe’s populists is taking shape: it focuses on breaches to democratic rule of law, rather than the issue of immigration. That’s why the most important piece of EU news this month was not the Salzburg situation (entirely predictable) but the 12 September vote in the EU parliament on the rule of law in Hungary (much less so). For the first time, an EU institution which is hard to describe as “anti-democratic” (it is elected directly by its citizens) called for the activation of article 7 procedure against a member state’s government because of the way it has been disemboweling essential democratic institutions and rights.

For a long time now, Europe’s liberal democrats have been struggling to curtail political forces that threaten core principles. But since the 2015 refugee crisis they have let themselves get dragged into precisely the debate that populists can thrive on: migration. Not only was the EU at a loss over how to deal with the arrival of a million people in 2015, but its liberals have mostly failed to convince large swaths of the population that immigration is needed, that it needn’t upend social services, and that it does not spell the end of a certain sense of European or national identity.

Migration conjures up fears that rational argument struggles to cope with. Hungary’s avowedly “illiberal” Viktor Orbán and Italy’s far-right Matteo Salvini have secured major electoral breakthroughs by relentlessly pounding away at migration, depicted as a “Muslim invasion” (Orbán) or as something that requires “mass cleansing, street by street” (Salvini). With that rhetoric, they are now preparing to launch their bid to take control of the EU parliament, along with like-minded European politicians.

With that rhetoric also, the Swedish far right has won a position that allows it to foster political instability, as shown by this week’s no-confidence vote in Stockholm. Pushing back at these forces with talk of multiculturalism and inclusiveness will go only so far. A better strategy is to nail them on the democratic rule of law. That’s where the populist achilles heel is found; and it’s where the EU has tools to act, such as article 7, which can suspend EU voting rights, or European court rulings.

By this, I certainly don’t mean that the moral and legal argument for saving people fleeing war and persecution should not be made. But it may be too late now, before the May 2019 vote, to shift those parts of public opinion in Europe that have come to believe asylum is shorthand for demographic upheaval or “replacement”. Studies show European citizens overestimate the percentage of migrants in their countries (Italians believe it is three times higher than the real figure). The bare fact that migration flows have dropped steeply since 2015 does not register in perceptions. It is no coincidence that anti-immigration narratives have now spread from Europe’s hard right to its hard left – with Germany’s Sahra Wagenknecht and France’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon arguing that the arrival of migrants is a capitalist European plot to suppress workers’ wages.

At this point, to shift the argument against Europe’s extremes away from migration makes much better sense.

Saying that the democratic rule of law is under siege holds more political potential. This is what happened on 12 September, when two-thirds of European lawmakers drew a line marking what is acceptable and what isn’t. Think of it as a case of European checks and balances at last kicking in. The resolution voted through that day is a clear indictment of everything Orbán has done to violate democratic standards, from restricting freedom of the press to undermining the electoral system. It ought to serve as a template for a wider grassroots European campaign to protect the democratic rule of law.

Rather than lambasting Orbán for rejecting the 2015 EU refugee redistribution scheme (compulsory quotas that never translated into reality), cornering him on the dismantling of mechanisms that give citizens a proper say in democracy, and allow them to make informed decisions, is likely to be more rewarding. A better way to counter Orbán and Salvini is to focus on how they threaten what protects citizens. Populists aim to destroy the safety that comes from being able to count on an independent judge if you have been the victim of abuse; the safety that comes with getting pluralistic information, not state propaganda; the safety that comes from being confident your shop or your business won’t be choked by kleptocratic, corrupt power networks.

It helps to picture populists as a bulldozer over which a large banner reading Migrants Out has been slapped to hide the grinding wheels and huge metal shovel that are busy dismantling the democratic rule of law. It’s happened in Hungary and Poland, and it’s threatening to happen in Italy if Salvini gets his way. Ask a European citizen if they want more migrants and they may answer uneasily. Ask them if they want their government to deprive them of the tools that give people a say and the protections that come with democratic rule, and the response will be more forthright.

Rule of law – as a shield against abuse of power and corruption – should be the signature theme of next year’s election.

Choice of vocabulary matters too. Framing the debate as a battle of “progressives versus nationalists” has limits because populists will push back by equating “progressivism” with enforcing “open-border” or “anti-Christian” policies. A shrewder approach would be to cast this existential battle for Europe’s soul as “democrats versus authoritarians”. At the end of the day, our common enemy is autocracy. Arbitrary rule leaves citizens unprotected; Europe’s body of law protects them. Populists want that to come undone, so they can redraw the continent as they like. That’s where the real, immediate danger lies – not in all the fantasising that, from Brexit to Orbán, has surrounded migration.

Source: Here’s how to beat the populists: stop talking about immigration

Sajid Javid’s immigration proposal exposes the insanity of Brexit

Ongoing disaster, more apparent as the deadline looms:

Reality is at last dawning. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, is reportedly to propose that EU passport holders will be waved through immigration “for 30 months”, in the event of a no-deal Brexit next March. They will only need to apply for visas later, if they wish to stay permanently.

This is reportedly a concession to business, employers and the chancellor, Philip Hammond. They have been frantically pointing out that farms, hospitals, care homes, construction sites, hotels and restaurants will simply close if their regular input of EU labour, skilled and unskilled, dries up from March. It is already declining at the prospect of Brexit. Stopping it or smothering it with bureaucracy would be the most savage act of self-harm by a British government in living memory.

The truth is that Javid has other problems. It is an open secret that Home Office officials have told him they cannot possibly construct a hard border for all EU visitors at ports of entry by next March. They cannot even contemplate one in Northern Ireland, where the argument is still over lorries, let alone people. Free movement of EU citizens will remain of necessity, until some hard-Brexit thinktank can devise an alternative to the free market in continental labour, so ardently championed by their hero Margaret Thatcher in 1986. They have 30 months to do so, or it will be 30 years.

Reporters returning last week from Salzburg expressed dismay that few heads of government seemed to care about Brexit. It was a minor local trouble on the fringe of Europe. Overwhelmingly they cared about migration. All face an anti-immigrant electoral backlash and many are now installing border controls. While the issue is mostly non-EU migrants, open borders are likely to be the first of the single market’s four freedoms to crumble.

This makes Brexit bitterly paradoxical. Leave voters were never worried over trade or tariffs, and no survey suggests otherwise. Brexit was driven by a concern with immigration. Yet at the very moment when the EU agrees, and starts to tackle it, Britain jumps the gun and leaves in a huff. Now, to pile irony upon irony, Britain’s home secretary moves in the opposite direction. Britain’s EU border must remain open for the simple reason that he cannot close it. Closure is economically harmful and practically impossible.

Perhaps Javid should talk to those of his colleagues now talking of a Brexit “Canada option”, defying Theresa May’s frictionless border pledge. This would impose border checks on all exports – merely admitting roughly half tariff-free. It would also require Britain’s tradable products, including food, to meet EU regulations, over which Britain will have surrendered all control.

If Javid can “wave through” people on grounds of economic expediency, he can surely wave through trade. That is called membership of a single market. With each passing day, we learn that leaving it is massively against Britain’s interest. It is perhaps no surprise that Brexit fanatics tend also to be climate change deniers.

Source: Sajid Javid’s immigration proposal exposes the insanity of Brexit

The part of Brexit everyone’s been avoiding is finally here: immigration

Some good commentary regarding Brexit and immigration:

Brexit was never really about immigration.

Or so liberal leavers fall over themselves to claim, at least. They can’t bear the idea of being associated with a racist backlash and so they insist it was really all about sovereignty; that all those inflammatory posters of dark-skinned migrants queuing at European borders and the cynical scaremongering about Turkey didn’t really have any bearing on the result, and that all they really wanted was just a fairer and more open system in which people could come to Britain more easily from Commonwealth countries.

Even Nigel Farage sounded as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth on the radio this morning, insisting all he ever wanted was control of our borders and equal opportunities for Indians to come here just as Romanians once did.

So it will be interesting to see what happens now the migration advisory committee has taken leavers at their word. Its long-awaited report on immigration after Brexit concludes, as expected, that once we leave the EU free movement should end, although it notes drily that that may leave us in the position of scrapping it “just as public concern falls about the migration flows that result from it”, and that both the benefits and the supposed negative impacts of it have been over-egged.

You can’t help wondering where its chart coolly summing up the facts – no evidence that EU migration has reduced wages or job opportunities for Britons on average, although some possible impact on the young and lower-skilled; some evidence that migration has pushed up house prices but also confirmation that migrants pay more in taxes than they take in benefits – was during the hysteria of the referendum debate.

But what’s done is done, so the committee recommends a Canadian-style system favouring higher-skilled workers over lower-skilled ones, focusing on what individuals contribute to the country rather than where they come from. It doesn’t put numbers on the table, or answer the potentially explosive question of whether Theresa May will now ditch her mythical and so far entirely unachievable target of reducing net immigration below 100,000.

But in suggesting that Britain could use work visas essentially as a bribe in trade talks, offering preferential access to countries prepared to strike free-trade deals with us, it certainly doesn’t suggest the goal is to keep numbers down at all costs. The question is whether that’s quite what angry voters who responded to Leave EU’s ugly rhetoric really had in mind, or whether this divides the leave movement between those for whom it genuinely wasn’t about keeping foreigners out and those for whom, to be blunt, it was.

Immigration has been oddly sidelined as an issue so far in the Brexit negotiations, partly because the EU didn’t make it an early priority for talks and partly because it suited much of Westminster to keep it that way. Downing Street is caught between two awkwardly irreconcilable opposites – the desire of many leave voters to pull up the drawbridge, versus employers’ fears that doing so will decimate the economy – and has been more than content to put the whole thing off for a bit.

Immigration has been a profoundly touchy issue for the prime minister personally ever since the “hostile environment” she herself created as home secretary returned to haunt her in the shape of the Windrush scandal. And Labour was no more eager for a showdown with voters in some of its heartlands who don’t see eye to eye with Jeremy Corbyn’s liberal views on immigration.

But like every other impossible question thrown up about Brexit, it can’t be dodged for ever. If nothing else, today brings us one step closer to the moment when everyone has to show their hand.

Source: The part of Brexit everyone’s been avoiding is finally here: immigration

And, in a related story, business leaders have been speaking out more:

UK employers condemn ‘ignorant, elitist’ Brexit immigration reportBusiness leaders have lined up to criticise the government’s migration advisory committee (MAC) after it proposed an “ignorant and elitist” ban on foreign workers earning less than £30,000 a year from obtaining visas to work in the UK after Brexit.

Organisations representing hauliers, housebuilders and the hospitality sector were among those to sound the alarm after the committee said only “higher skilled” workers should be allowed visas, with no preferential access given to European Union citizens.

Richard Burnett, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, which represents 7,000 hauliers, said: “We need an immigration policy across all skill levels. It is about what our businesses need. The idea that only high-skilled immigration should be allowed is both ignorant and elitist.”

Brian Berry, the chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, warned that his industry would be crippled: “It’s not at all clear that EU workers with important skills already in short supply, like bricklaying and carpentry, will not fall foul of a crude and limited definition of ‘high-skilled’ worker.”

Des Gunewardena, the chairman and CEO of D&D London, the owner of 40 upmarket restaurants, warned that businesses like his could be affected if the recommendations were taken up. “I’ve got no doubt that if movement of staff becomes difficult, we will need to scale back sharply,” he said.

Source: UK employers condemn ‘ignorant, elitist’ Brexit immigration report

Brits are changing their tune on immigrant workers – CNN

Interesting shift:

The number of people in the United Kingdom who say that migrants are good for the economy has risen sharply to 47%, according to the British Social Attitudes survey. Just over a third of Brits said the same in 2015, and only 21% in 2013.

The results suggest that attitudes toward immigrants have softened since the 2016 Brexit vote, which the official Vote Leave campaign framed as an opportunity to reduce the number of migrants coming to Britain from the European Union.

According to a survey published last year by YouGov, a desire to limit migration was the top reason Brits voted for Brexit.

A report that accompanied the British Social Attitudes survey, which was conducted by the independent social researcher NatCen, argued that the political debate may have changed some minds.

“There is little sign here that the EU referendum campaign served to make Britain less tolerant towards migrants; rather they have apparently come to be valued to a degree that was not in evidence before the referendum campaign,” researchers said.

Heather Rolfe, a researcher at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said that the debate “has tended to emphasize the economic contribution of migrants in a way it wasn’t before.”

Economists have long argued that migrants tend to contribute more to the British economy than they take out. With unemployment at its lowest level in decades, and companies struggling to find workers, they’re now needed urgently.

“There is a growing realization that sectors such as health and social care need skilled migrants and that low-skilled migrants are needed in sectors like agriculture and hospitality,” Rolfe said. “It also reflects a small increase in concern that Brexit is bad for the economy.”

Attitudes toward immigration also shifted on another front: The survey showed that 44% of Brits think immigration has a positive impact on cultural life, up from from 31% in 2015.

Data from the UK Office for National Statistics show that more Europeans are coming to the United Kingdom than leaving, but the gap has narrowed.

Net migration from the European Union dropped to 90,000 in the year to September 2017, according to the latest available data. Net migration was 189,000 in the year leading up to the Brexit vote.

via Brits are changing their tune on immigrant workers – CNN

ICYMI: World’s youngest billionaire warns on Trump – BBC News

Impact of anti-immigration rhetoric and on the UK:

Anti-immigration rhetoric coming from the White House is deterring software developers from going to the US.

That’s according to the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, 27-year-old Irishman John Collison.

Stripe, the company he founded with his brother Patrick, provides the payments plumbing for hundreds of thousands of online businesses.
Collison said that his fast-growing business had noticed the difficulty in luring top talent to Silicon Valley.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the Limerick man said he feared the same may prove true for the UK because of Brexit.

“People are less willing to move to the US,” Collison said. “They don’t even want to enter the visa process because of the perceived political climate here and how welcoming it is to immigrants and I think the perception (of the UK) will also make it harder to recruit in the UK”

He said the stakes were high as it ultimately risked the UK’s ability to produce a vibrant and successful technology sector.

‘The brightest and the best’

Collison has accepted there is no going back but says the government should be a sending a clear message that international talent was welcome in the UK.

“What’s done is done but what I think we can now affect is the perception of the UK as an attractive place to live, work and do business, ” he said.

“It’s something we are screwing up in the US and I think there is a very clear opportunity to send a message that the UK is a good place to emigrate to.”

Collison’s frustration is compounded by the fact that these perceived forces of deterrence fly in the opposite direction to the way the world of commerce and technology are evolving.

He says: “There is a juxtaposition between an outward, global, technology and export-based economy on the one hand and the anti-immigrant signals from the US and Brexit.”

The UK government insists that it understands the need to lure the “brightest and best” from around the world – it recently doubled the number of visas available for exceptionally talented individuals from outside the EU who show promise in technology, science, art and creative industries from 1,000 to 2,000.

But the long-term position of EU nationals who arrive after Brexit is less clear.

Stripe is has just signed a deal with Amazon

That is perhaps one reason why Collison and his older brother are betting big on Dublin as their European headquarters.

“There are a few reasons. First, it’s in the European Union, second, it’s a real international melting pot with the skills we need and third it’s a nice vibrant city to live in – there’s more of a craic (more fun) in Dublin.”

via World’s youngest billionaire warns on Trump – BBC News

Brexit: Why French citizenship is not the solution for most Brits in France – The Local

Looking forward to seeing a series of similar articles from British expatriates complaining about EU country citizenship requirements.
Most of the articles I have seen to date focus on expatriates who are working elsewhere in the EU; this one appears to be more focussed on retiree concerns:
While the numbers of Brits seeking French nationality has soared since the EU referendum, for the majority of British nationals worried by Brexit becoming French is just not the solution.

Since the 2016 referendum prefectures across France have been inundated with requests from thousands of British nationals applying for French citizenship.

Indeed recent figures showed the number of Brits seeking to become French had soared tenfold since 2015 as worried Brexpats look to guarantee their futures in France.

The numbers only look set to grow as Brexit Day draws nearer, with those Brits who meet the criteria and are prepared to go through the arduous process, look to avoid more limbo.

They know that French nationality will not only allow permanent residence in France but also continued freedom of movement across the EU, something they are not currently guaranteed.

But while just over 3,000 Brits applied for French nationality in 2017 it’s still just a tiny number compared to the overall number of Britons living in France – which is believed to be between 150,000 and 200,000.

That’s because many are simply unwilling or unable to consider becoming French, some for practical reasons and others on principle.

Research carried out by the group RIFT (Remain in France Together) which campaigns for the rights of Britons in France has revealed that for many, becoming French is the absolute last resort.

Of just over 800 respondents to a survey on citizenship, some 40 percent said they would only take French nationality “as a last resort”, in other words if it was the only way to guarantee their right to remain and work in France.

For many respondents the idea of applying for French citizenship just for personal and practical reasons just doesn’t feel right.

Many spoke of a feeling of hypocrisy when citing their reasons.

Gill Harrison, who lives in the south west of France told The Local: “I never thought of applying for French nationality before all this madness started and feel it would be totally hypocritical to start doing it now, simply to make it easier for me to stay here – that’s not a good enough reason for either me or for the French State, to which – I assume – I would have to swear allegiance.

Jan Letchford from near Narbonne added: “I just think on the principle of honesty, both to me and to France, it just doesn’t sit well with me.”

Other respondents to the survey simply felt resentment at being forced into a lengthy and expensive process due to a referendum they believe was a farce and which some were not even allowed to vote in due to the 15 year limit on expats voting in elections.

‘I already have enough paperwork to deal with in France’

“I object to being obliged to adopt another nationality as a purely administrative ‘flag of convenience’ exercise, just to preserve rights I shouldn’t be losing in the first place,” said one respondent.

“I also object to being obliged – by Brexit supporting voters in the UK, and by the failure of the UK Government negotiating team to safeguard my interests – to embark on a time-consuming, potentially costly paper chase which has no guaranteed outcome when I already have more than enough paperwork to do in France, just to stand still,” said the respondent.

For others who would only gain French nationality as a last resort, the idea of switching from British to French nationality does not fit well, especially when they see themselves as neither.

“I have no ‘patriotic’ feelings about GB (especially now!) and don’t really have any towards France (although I want to continue living here as this is where my present life is – who knows for the future?),” said one respondent to the survey.

“What I really prize is my European citizenship but, sadly, that is the one that is most at risk.”

But it’s not just issues around identity, hypocrisy and resentment that are preventing many from applying. Others simply feel they would not meet the criteria, which not only requires five years residence in France but also the ability to speak French to a certain level – AND prove it in an interview –  and to be able to show you can pay your own way in France.

Julian Silver, 52 who lives in the Tarn told The Local becoming French was not an option due to the fact he doesn’t speak the language well enough.

“I could say go on lessons but firstly that is impractical and expensive. And I seem to have a mental block on linguistics of any kind…even computer languages. I had a stroke 10 years ago and had to re-learn to speak afterwards. But I find foreign languages particularly difficult.”

While the language may be barrier for some, for others it was poor health and for many the idea of amassing documents such as parents birth certificates and having them translated into French before waiting another 18 months for an answer was enough to put them off.

“It’s 18 months out of my life that I shouldn’t have to lose. It’s expensive. It’s stressful. It’s not what I would have chosen. And at the end of it all I could still end up with less rights than I’ve got now. It’s not a panacea,” said one respondent to the RIFT survey.

For some taking French nationality was not an option because they would be unable to prove they had “sufficient and stable resources.”

“Taking French citizenship is hardly an option as I’m officially a ‘burden on the state’, in receipt of RSA and Aide au logement. Since 2012 my self-employed accounts show a decreasing ability to support myself,” one British citizen in France who wanted to remain anonymous told The Local.

Another told The Local: “We basically living on savings from the sale of our house in the UK and leading a very simple (cheap) lifestyle being as self sufficient as possible. As a result, we feel that we would not meet the monetary requirements for citizenship.”

Others cited their fear that the British government might make things more difficult for them if they obtain French nationality, although given that they will be able to keep their British nationality there seems no reason to worry this would be the case.

The leader of RIFT’s Kalba Meadows, who analysed the research on the feelings of Brits towards French nationality said: “To put it simply, for a majority of people, citizenship is neither straightforward nor even, necessarily a solution.”

“To suggest that it is ignores the importance of both identity and conscience in the decision of whether to apply for citizenship.”

“While we continue to be told that taking French citizenship is an option if our rights are not upheld post-Brexit, it is not an option available to everyone under current rules,” she said.

via Brexit: Why French citizenship is not the solution for most Brits in France – The Local

UK immigration latest: EU net migration falls over past year as Brexit uncertainty continues | The Independent

Not surprising:

EU net migration is falling as more European citizens leave the UK and fewer arrive in the wake of the vote for Brexit, new statistics show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said overall net migration in the year to September was 244,000 – a similar level to early 2014 and down on record levels in the next two years.

The number of European citizens arriving has plummeted since the EU referendum, while the number of people from outside the bloc has increased.

“EU net migration has fallen as fewer EU citizens are arriving, especially those coming to look for work in the UK, and the number leaving has risen – it has now returned to the level seen in 2012,” said Nicola White, head of international migration statistics at the ONS.

“The figures also show that non-EU net migration is now larger than EU net migration, mainly due to the large decrease in EU net migration over the last year. However, migration of both non-EU and EU citizens are still adding to the UK population.

“Brexit could well be a factor in people’s decision to move to or from the UK, but people’s decision to migrate is complicated and can be influenced by lots of different reasons.”

The number of EU citizens coming to the UK plummeted by 47,000 in the year and the number leaving – 130,000 – is the highest recorded level since the 2008 financial crisis.

Almost a quarter of a million people arrived in the UK to work in the period 2017, with the number of EU citizens falling by 58,000.

Most of the Europeans arriving had a definite job lined up, while a smaller proportion were looking for work.

The biggest nationality starting work in the year to September, according to National Insurance number registration data, was Romanian, followed by Polish, Italian, Bulgarian, Spanish and Indian – who accounted for over half of all skilled work visas granted.

The ONS said that the overall employment rate for EU nationals was 81.2 per cent, followed by Brits at 75.6 per cent and non-EU nationals on 63.2 per cent.

George Koureas, a partner at immigration law firm Fragomen, said: “The UK has become a significantly less attractive place for European citizens to work since Brexit, so it’s no surprise that more EU workers are leaving the country.

“Although the Government may see this as good news, it presents a significant threat to UK businesses, already struggling to hire the skilled workers they need to thrive.”

He said there could be a further impact from the Government’s plan to double the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is paid by migrants to use the NHS, and caps on visas for skilled workers.

via UK immigration latest: EU net migration falls over past year as Brexit uncertainty continues | The Independent

Businesses are floundering while Whitehall dithers on immigration

Interesting commentary from Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce:

You might not know it, but a crisis is looming on the business parks, industrial estates, construction projects and farms of Britain. As the Brexit process dominates politics – and diverts Westminster’s energy away from virtually every other issue – businesses are struggling to fill vacancies and to find the people they need in order to grow.

In some sectors firms report that labour shortages have reached critical levels. A combination of record employment levels for UK-born people, significant falls in immigration following the devaluation of sterling in 2016, and the total absence of job candidates in some areas is biting hard. British Chambers of Commerce surveys show nearly three-quarters of firms trying to recruit are experiencing difficulties – this is at or near the highest levels since our records began more than 25 years ago.

Pragmatic solutions are needed to this acute and immediate problem. Job vacancies at all levels in the workforce are being left unfilled, damaging not only individual businesses and their growth prospects but also supply chains and the wider economy. While many firms report they are investing long term in the training and development of their workforce, this will take years to have the desired impact, particularly for very highly skilled roles. We cannot afford any gap in the supply of skills and labour. Businesses that have not planned ahead for their future needs will be wishing they had.

Yet, with few exceptions, businesses tell us that breezy Whitehall assumptions about artificial intelligence and automation remain years away from fruition. While some jobs may change or disappear in future, businesses will always need people because they are more flexible and adaptable than robots to the fast pace of change in the workplace. There’s no doubt, in the here and now, that UK firms require continuing access to labour, from Europe and farther afield, to plug the gaps.

Amid all the uncertainty our businesses and communities face, the UK government must act swiftly to define an open and responsive immigration policy. Businesses accept that, in future, there will be some form of registration for European workers, but they are equally clear that they must be able to access skills and talent from the European mainland with minimal costs, barriers and delay after Brexit – irrespective of the final settlement between the UK and the EU.

Taking back control of immigration should not mean pulling up the drawbridge. It means knowing who’s coming in and out, and ensuring that only those who are entitled to work in the UK can do so. Tighter enforcement of the law, with individuals and with rogue employers, alike, is much more important to addressing legitimate public concerns over immigration levels than an expensive, draconian and damaging visa or work permit regime. At the same time, firms across the country must demonstrate, day in and day out, real civic commitment to train and invest in staff here at home. We in business must hold up our side of the deal, too.

Civic-minded businesses aren’t making the case for immigration because they’re seeking cheap labour from abroad. Despite the oft-repeated myths, our research clearly shows that a tiny percentage of businesses consciously recruit outside the UK for reasons of cost. Businesses in the communities I represent are far more likely to try to address skills shortages locally, by investing in their workforce or seeking new employees through word-of-mouth advertising or UK recruitment agencies. Firms in a small number of areas, such as agriculture and personal care, do advertise overseas – but only because they fail to recruit local workers to do the jobs on offer.

These skills gaps won’t disappear after Brexit, but many firms’ production targets will be scaled back, and expansion plans shelved, if the loathed and expensive system used for non-EU recruiting is expanded across the board. The current rationing of non-EU work permits is already a clear and present threat to investment in our business communities, and extending that cumbersome system to European workers would make a difficult situation even worse.

A brave government would either unilaterally keep a preferential approach, or adopt a level playing field that radically reduces costs and administrative burdens across the board, rather than put them up.

In recent months, the Home Office under Amber Rudd has made welcome efforts to open up after years of defensiveness, and talk more to businesses about the UK’s future immigration rules. The migration advisory committee is also taking a clear-eyed look around the country at different communities’ future workforce needs. This enhanced engagement, rather than dictation, is a major step forward. Ministers must now avoid an unwelcome and untimely step backwards to an expensive and bureaucratic immigration system – and make a bold commitment to meet the needs of the economy.

The simple fact is that many businesses can’t afford to wait much longer for a clear UK immigration policy to emerge. This makes it all the more troubling that the planned immigration white paper, meant to cover the short to medium term, is now delayed. As the prime minister herself has repeatedly noted, workers of all skill levels from Europe play a huge role in the success of British businesses and communities. Now it is up to the cabinet as a whole – including Theresa May – to send a clear and swift signal that businesses can access the people and skills needed to remain competitive in a global market.

A failure to act swiftly would hamstring UK firms’ competitiveness, and even send some to the wall. It’s not just about “the best and the brightest” coming to work in the City, our universities and the creative industries. If ministers wish to avoid the sight of unfinished urban buildings, fruit rotting in Herefordshire fields, and care homes and hotels from Bournemouth to Inverness shutting their doors, as well as manufacturers investing in their overseas operations instead of here at home, the time to act is now.

Source: Businesses are floundering while Whitehall dithers on immigration

UK’s Falling Immigration Is a Boon for May, But Not for Business

Not surprising given Brexit and the related uncertainty:

Net immigration to the U.K. is likely to fall to 180,000 in 2018, the closest the government has come to meeting its longstanding target of a reduction to the “tens of thousands.”

That’s the forecast on Tuesday from the Institute of Directors. The decline by at least 50,000 is good news, on the face of it, for Prime Minister Theresa May, who failed to get anywhere close to the goal during her six years in charge of immigration policy as home secretary and, latterly, 18 months as premier.

But business doesn’t see it the same way.

Small and medium-sized ones in particular, “will find it more difficult to recruit the people they need for our economy to prosper, resulting in a labor market tightening,” the institute said. “Some firms will feel pressure to raise wages but others will struggle to cope and will consequently stagnate or downsize.”

That’s hardly the picture of a vibrant economy that May’s seeking to project as Britain negotiates its departure from the European Union. But for May, meeting the target — which dates back to 2010 — is one of the keys to delivering on the verdict of the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Her Conservatives have stuck doggedly to their immigration target even as net migration soared as high as 336,000 in the year through the end of June 2016. Since the referendum, quantities have been falling, a combination of EU workers feeling less welcome and less secure, and net immigration for the year through June 2017 was 230,000.