The European question will be on the minds of many as they travel to the ballot boxes next week, but it’s for no good reason.

Scapegoating Europe is something which clearly appeals to a decent-sized chunk of the electorate, as the Tories and even Labour have had to make promises about Europe and immigration in order to fend off UKIP’s attack.

The European Parliament, friend or foe?

The European Parliament, friend or foe?

Voters have been subjected to an inescapable barrage of Farage over the past few months. By its very nature, the United Kingdom Independence Party suggests that its primary objective is a split from the EU. But it’s still not clear why this is the case.

Farage seems to suggest that ‘uncontrolled immigration’ has opened the doors to over 400 million EU migrants, bringing to mind terrifying images of wave after wave of workers storming the beaches of Dover. He also says that this is straining the NHS, and depriving British citizens of jobs.

To put it gently, this is utter bollocks. Here are some stats for you about EU immigration:

  • From 2001 to 2011, EU immigrants contributed 64% more in taxes than they received in benefits.
  • Migrants in this period were 43% less likely to receive benefits than UK-born workers.
  • In 2011, 62% of migrants from EU-15 countries had degrees, making them better educated on average than Brits.

So economically, UKIP’s ideas don’t seem to make much sense. Mr Farage seems to bang on about how our population is rising to uncontrollable levels. It’s almost as if he has forgotten that populations rise almost exponentially EVERYWHERE, so population increase is nothing new.

(Stats from a poll conducted by ComRes, October 2014)

Free movement, a one-way street? (Stats from a poll conducted by ComRes, October 2014)

Britain being a member of the European Union gives British citizens freedom of movement and establishment within Europe. This has obvious economic benefits, let alone the fact that we benefit from the European Convention on Human Rights (which would have to be replaced if we quit the EU).

What people often forget is that free movement isn’t entirely free; you must be a worker to gain these rights.

Nobody, not even the supposedly Britain-hating European Parliament, is suggesting that Britain opens its doors to benefit scroungers. We are well within our rights to deport those who are found to be abusing the system.

But what about British benefit scroungers? A study by the University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory suggested that only 1.45% of Romanian migrant workers claimed benefits in 2013. For British people of working age, the figure was 9.5%.

Show me a world in which EVERY British person works and pays taxes, and then if the welfare bill is still seen as such a problem, we can consider the impact of immigration. But please do not suggest that British people are more entitled to rights and jobs than other people purely by virtue of being born here.

The problem does not lie with Europe. It lies with the British government’s failure to encourage our citizens to take existing jobs. It lies with the citizens more willing to blame migrants than stay in school. It lies with business owners who exploit migrant workers.

We should use the EU to our advantage, not seek to distance ourselves from it. Introduce stricter controls on benefits, but make it a universal measure, because you can’t pretend that Brits aren’t a part of the problem. Clamp down on those who lure migrant workers over and pay them below the minimum wage. Use the financial contributions provided by migrant workers to invest in schools and the NHS, so that in the long term our citizens will benefit.

When you go to the ballots next week, push the European question to the back of your mind. Let go of the anachronistic concept of ‘Britishness’ and embrace the modern world. It might be scary, but if we can shrug off the fear, it will make the world a better place for all of us.

Do you see Britain’s EU membership as a problem? Let us know in the comments.


Leave your response!

  • Asam

    Bloody great to see some actual journalism on the tab for once.


  • Disgruntled Reader

    Could we get back to the important stuff please. I’m sure someone’s hosted a house party these last couple of days.


    Abraham Shekelkeks

    UHHH. It was a hot tub party, ACKTUAELLY.


  • Josh

    Totally agree, being a Brit who has lived in Luxembourg, I have felt the benefits of being able to live and work here. Immigration didn’t cause the recession, it was the bankers…a fact Farage seemingly likes to overlook, although that may be because he used to work in the City. Also look at Southampton’s economic history, in the 1970’s parts of it, such as Shirley, were a very rather poor with high rates of unemployment. Then when the Polish came and settled, they didn’t take jobs, they created jobs by opening businesses. So immigrants don’t take jobs from British people, more often than not they create jobs for everyone and take jobs that British people are unwilling to do. They want to contribute to the society they live in, not take from it….so Farage can take is anti-EU BS and put it where the sun don’t shine. Might also be worth mentioning that Farage was on the EU Fishery Commission at the time of the quota system, yes it was a bad idea and caused poor practices, but Farage didn’t lift a finger…so yea Farage=HYPOCRITE


  • pay attention

    EU==ECHR. As a law student you should have had that nailed into your head by now, Harry.


    pay attention

    *== is supposed to be a does not equal sign


  • Edwardus Milliusbandus

    Your article needs a bit more research:

    1. The UKIP critique of EU membership is not that it lets in unlimited amounts of foreigners but rather that it deprives us of any way to control immigration. If your stats are correct and from a good source then that certainly shows we’ve been more fortuitous than not in the immigration we’ve seen but the point of UKIP comes down to a frustration with the lack of control more than anything. EU politics prioritises integration over state sovereignty leaving national governments little room to accept or reject immigration (whether good or bad for the country). To illustrate the issue of control by a nation’s peole more consider how the British electorate were denied a promised referendum on Lisbon by Brown. Or how in other countries, (ireland, france, netherlands) they actually had a referendum but were ignored and further integrated into the EU, despite a strong message by a democratic vote to the contrary. The issue is plainly a lot more than, as you would have it, the competition for employment.

    2. Population growth is not exponential everywhere, a quick wikipedia of this shows that some countries even have negative pop growth. However there is a more fundamental problem with your argument which is the fallacy that because all countries’ population growth means immigration is not a problem, just a normal part of unavoidable population growth. That is fallacious because immigration can accelerate pop growth massively, outpacing the supply of housing, schools, hospitals and other public services.

    3. “Britain being a member of the European Union gives British citizens freedom of movement and establishment within Europe. This has obvious economic benefits, let alone the fact that we benefit from the European Convention on Human Rights (which would have to be replaced if we quit the EU).”

    – First of all, the UK does not benefit from the Convention on HRs by virtue of its membership in the EU. That convention was established by the Council of Europe, a separate entity. Any withdrawal by the UK from the EU would not also amount to a withdrawal from the Convention, (something which even Russia is a member of). Though it is worth noting that the Tories plan to withdraw from the Convention.
    -Second of all, the benefits of free movement are not explained here and are not necessarily obvious. For whom are they obvious? Certainly they are obvious for large MNCs that can now rapidly expand across the continent. But what about local traders, small businesses etc which now face not only domestic but also international pressure? Im not saying this increased competition is bad im just saying that you cannot assume what you are setting out to prove (i.e. that the EU is a good thing to be part of).

    4. The argument that EU migrants are less likely to collect benefits than natives is a bit difficult to swallow given that you’ve paid no consideration to the other side of the argument: namely massive globalisation and the effect this necessarily has on nationals of a country who are suddenly on a global market for a job in their own country. I am not against globalisation personally, and anyone who pretends to be against it should really wake up. The point however is that you should at least give the other side a say in this debate.

    5. Im not sure voting for a pro-EU party has to mean we “shrug of our britishness”. If you have lived in anoother european country for more than a month you will realise just how unique and different each of our cultures is. Abandoning our national identity is not a utopian panacea as you seem to suggest. I personally cant think of anyone who would rather identify themselves a “European” than “British”. (Though i’m suree there will be exceptions to that).

    Conclusion to this procrastinatory argument:

    It seems that you are trying to denigrate the significance of the UKIP movement without properly engaging in the debate. There may be individuals with questionable views in that party but certainly they are not to be dismissed for the ecceentrics among them. Their movement is large, and gaining momentum. Similar sentiments are emerging on the continent, i.e. Front National, and others.

    Before you dismiss these arguments so easily I suggest you properly research your arguments and include both sides of the debate, not just your own.

    There are very good reasons for being in the EU which I hope we continue to remain a part of.


  • Discipulus

    While perhaps a little disingenuous when it came to representing UKIPs official view on the matter of immigration, you certainly did represent the overwhelming view of its supporters. Further, its unfortunate that you didn’t elaborate on the Tory & Labour positions on the issue as they’ve actually put out some decent proposals that aren’t merely carbon copies of UKIPs suggestions.

    Nevertheless, happy to come across some decent journalism on this site for a change!


  • ads

    Jesus christ tab, where do you find these people?

    There are plenty more reasons for leaving the EU other than freedom of movement. Also no party, by the way (even UKIP), is advocating for zero net migration.

    You don’t have to be a member of the EU to be signed up to the ECHR, and it’s not as if the UK has a recent history of human rights abuses.


  • Nova

    How about british immigration start tightening their laws, deport illegal immigrants?? have strict immigration. don’t allow the far leftists delusional liberals to tell UK how to run the country. liberals wreck nations and forced integration never works. the author is a leftist and i call horse’s manure on his advice.