UK is now one of the most pro-immigrant countries in the world, new study finds.

A recent study by research company Ipsos MORI, commissioned by the BBC series Crossing Divides, has found that public opinion on immigration has steadily been increasing since 2011.

It was found that British residents were now among the most accepting of immigration in the world, and around 48% of UK residents surveyed believed that immigration had a positive impact on the country, compared to a global average of 24%.

English respondents were also found to be the most welcoming of immigration, with 48% of English respondents viewing immigration positively, following by 47% for Scotland and Wales, and 42% for Northern Ireland.

The study was ran in 27 countries and surveyed adults under 65, with a total of 19,782 adults completing questionnaires online. 15 of the 27 countries surveyed online generate nationally representative samples in their countries, and at least 500 respondents were surveyed in each country. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Peru and Mexico, produced a national sample that was more urban and educated then nationally represented averages, however the samples for both England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland was nationally representative based on a number of social demographics.

The survey found that the United Kingdom had the joint highest percentage of respondents who mentioned that immigration positively impacted their country, tied with Saudi Arabia.

The study has shown a consistent increase in the percentage of respondents who regard immigration as positive in the UK. In 2011, only 19% of UK respondents believed that immigration had a positive impact on UK society and by the 2016 EU referendum, that percentage had increased to 35%.

The country with the lowest percentage of positive responses to immigration was Japan, with only 3% of Japanese respondents reporting that Immigration was positive for Japan, and Turkey and Colombia reported the highest percentage of respondents who viewed immigration negatively, with both reporting 71% of respondents who believed that immigration had a negative impact on their respective countries.

The study has also shown that the past few years have seen a nationalist trend for more respondents to view immigration in a negative light globally.

The study’s results sheds new light onto the true state of public views on immigration, beyond the views driven by Political leaders.

The Research Director at Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute has said in response to the study that “it is notable that one of the key issues leading to Brexit was immigration, yet, Brits are twice as more positive about the impact of immigration than globally.”

We Must Treat Immigrants As Our Friends And Not Just Humans.

Racism and xenophobia have infected British politics. The sight of politicians stoking up fear against immigrants no longer seems to shock us; quite frankly, it’s come to be expected. In the same way that hate crime increased in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, so too has hate-filled bigotry infected British politics. It is now considered appropriate for Theresa May to claim EU migrants have “jumped the queue”; charging them £65 for settled status after Brexit. It is now customary for Sajid Javid to deny asylum seekers refuge in the UK. The sight of Tommy Robinson (now an advisor for UKIP) spewing hate on our TV screens has become routine. Anti-immigration rhetoric has become normalised; the Far Right has desensitised us from their bigotry. Their brand of bitter, racist, ugly populism has invaded British politics.

By pandering to the Far Right, the Tories have failed to acknowledge the fact that immigration has been a force for good in this country. Their hard work has greatly contributed to the British economy; on average, contributing £78000 to the Exchequer. EU nationals make up 63000 of all NHS staff, 5000 of all teachers and 92000 of all care workers in our desperately underfunded social care system. Half a million are also employed in low-skilled work across the UK. In all cases, immigrants give more than they take. While the Right may claim that they undercut wages and overstretch our public services (even suggesting they deny the opportunity for young Brits to train as doctors), in reality, they spend money, pay taxes and tend to use the NHS less than most Britons.

However, the fact is many of these types of justifications of the value immigration miss the point entirely. Immigrants are all too often described in economic terms; as robots that work in the country, pay taxes and contribute to our economy. What is less often emphasised is their role as friends, neighbours, colleagues and classmates. By reducing their value solely to their economic output, we ignore the vast contributions made by immigrants in transforming Britain into a multicultural, diverse society. Growing up in East London, I was exposed to a vast array of different cultures and learnt so much from my continental peers whether it be how to say “hello” and “thank you” in Polish, or observing Jumu’ah on a Friday with my Muslim friends. They taught me what it meant to be British: tolerant, inclusive and accepting.

Immigration broadens the mind, much in the same way as travelling does; it is no coincidence that nearly all major cities in the UK with higher levels of immigration chose to back Remain in the EU referendum.

The de-humanisation of immigrants in this country has been shameful; seeing them scapegoated for the crimes of the rich has been heart-breaking. Immigration has not fuelled populism, austerity has. The backlash the political classes are now experiencing in response to austerity politics has been redirected towards immigrants; rather than the politicians who underfund our public services, cause stagnating wages and unemployment. The right-wing press has conned us into blaming immigrants for the plight of the working classes. By directing anger at immigrants and brainwashing society into fighting against the enemy within, the politicians are let off the hook.

Why have the ruling classes done this? The answer is simple: to protect their privileged status by segregating the working class; leaving them unable to organise coordinated opposition to this rigged economic system. The white working class and immigrants have much more in common than many Britons would care to admit. Immigrants and ethnic minorities are twice as likely to experience poverty as white groups. Both groups have suffered heavily under austerity. At a time of immense social upheaval and protest (Brexit), the ruling class has employed divide and conquer tactics to subdue the lower classes. Anti-immigration rhetoric has thus been allowed to run riot in our mainstream media.

The effects of this scape-goating have been hard to stomach. Hate crime has increased by 17% since the Brexit vote. The viral video of a Syrian refugee getting bullied in a school in Huddersfield is part of a much wider problem. What shocked me most about this video was the fact that not one child stepped in to defend the poor boy, showing the extent to which years of anti-immigration rhetoric had de-humanised him in the eyes of his peers.

The damning by-products of Boris Johnson’s burka comments and Nigel Farage’s “Breaking Point” poster have been made clear. The mainstream media were rightfully shocked and appalled at the depravity of these comments, however, the fact remains that they were given air-time and national coverage. All this does is normalise hatred, treating it as acceptable political jargon: if the politicians are doing it, why can’t everyone? Historians of the future will be damning in their judgements of these politicians and the role they played in transforming Britain from a safe place for migrants to one in which they face hostility.

There has been a political failure to champion immigration as a force for good in this country. As Sir Oliver Letwin rightfully claimed the main parties had “made a terrible mistake” in failing to argue, with commitment and resolve, “that properly controlled migration enriches the country in every sense”. It is the job of progressive politicians on the left to champion the case for immigration. Although this would likely prove electorally unpopular in the current climate, it is vital if we are to alter people’s perceptions and prejudices.

It may seem patronising to champion the contribution of immigrants to this country, but the truth is, many people simply have not experienced these benefits. Those of us that have grown up with immigrants have a duty to educate. Those who have limited experience of immigration are more susceptible to the lies and deception of the right-wing press. By failing to stand up to bigotry, we legitimise it. If we fail to do so, who is going to stand up and defend the rights of immigrants? Clearly, it won’t be our morally corrupt politicians.

There are, however, reasons to be optimistic. The future of British politics is looking bright for immigrants. 32% of MYPs in the UK Youth Parliament are from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. In time, British society will be governed by people who reflect our multicultural society. People who will stand up to bigotry in all its forms and reverse the worrying trends we see infecting British politics today. People who have grown up with immigrants, from a vast array of countries, who will treat them not just as humans but as friends.

 

Home Office Report Reaffirms Britain’s Deluded Immigration Obsession

Britain’s puzzling attitude towards immigration has another contribution to its history with the Migration Advisory Committee publishing a report on the impact of Brexit on the UK labour market which calls for no special immigration rights for EU citizens after Brexit. The report, which was commissioned by the Home Office in August 2017, does suggest that it should be made easier for high skilled workers to move to the UK, but calls for an end to freedom of movement, in a call for a Canada-esque system.

This report published by an independent committee, coincidentally falls into line with the proposals hinted at by Theresa May that she does not want preferential treatment for EU citizens than non-EU citizens. This is despite the fact that the MAC also concluded that European migrants contribute £2,300 more to the economy than the average adult. As well as this, the report states that on average there is “no evidence that EEA migration has reduced employment opportunities” for people born in the UK, nor is there evidence that suggests EEA migration has reduced wages for UK born workers, which will be much to the dismay of the migrant bashing right. Migrants are also to have found to pay more than they take out and have a positive impact on productivity. The report concludes that generally, the impact of immigration has been largely negligible, with the only real impact over the past fifteen years being a slight increase in population.

In what is seen as bad news for universities, the Committee had already stated last week that it will advise that international students should not be removed from future immigration targets to fall in line with the Conservatives plans to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands. This is mainly due to the technical difficulties in putting such a plan in place. Their interim report in March also said that business leaders were “fearful” of future immigration proposals and that employers found EU workers more “eager” and “reliable.” However, due to the repercussions of the 2016 Referendum, net immigration figures are at their lowest level since 2012, with a 33% decrease in EU nationals coming to the UK to look for work.

The fact that immigration holds such a centralised debating point is no doubt down to the platforms given to the likes of Nigel Farage, who it appears is freely available to discuss immigration on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. This is even though he has failed on seven occasions to be elected as a member of Parliament and is not a leader of any political party. The unchecked and unaccountable xenophobia and racism that targets immigrants coming into the country has paved the way for political disasters such as Brexit. Those on the right have long used immigration as an excuse to vent their ignorance, and often long to hark back to some imagined past where Britain was glorious.

However, it was in fact during what the right will see as Britain’s golden period, the “Age of Empire”, that Britain had absolutely no rules on immigration. Throughout the majority of the nineteenth century the executive had no statutory power to prevent people from coming and staying in Britain, and from 1823 Britain did not expel or prohibit a single refugee. For most Britons this was a source of considerable national pride.  Naturally members of the then Liberal Party were prominent in the defence of the immigrants, but the view of Britain as a refuge and haven for the oppressed and persecuted stretched beyond this and was a widely-held political and cultural tradition.

Comparatively, both eras were periods when liberalism had to ride waves of nationalist and conservative populism and these similarities stretch to the rhetoric used amongst commentators and politicians. A combination of challenges to Victorian stability and sense of social harmony caused a feeling of insecurity and self-doubt across the country. Many felt that Britain was under threat, and that immigration freedoms were leading to her becoming the ‘dumping ground of Europe’. In such periods of heightening patriotic fervour, pride to Empire, and xenophobia, insecurity and negative stereotypes prospered. Overall, Victorian self-confidence had begun to wane during the late nineteenth century, and the press and politicians searched for a scape-goat, of which they found many. This was espoused through the cheap newspapers on sale across the country, most notably the Daily Mail which was established in 1896.

To survive this nationalist populism, a ‘new Liberalism’ emerged which increasingly came to believe the state was necessary to promote freedom and protect liberal values and institutions. took on an approach of reform through further state intervention, and eventually passed a very diluted and ineffective immigration bill in 1905.Contemporary liberalism on the other hand is faltering massively and does not appear to have the platform or voices to rebuke the right that is so urgently needed. This void is not currently being filled by the mainstream media, making the job of the growing band of independent news sites ever more important.