Immigrants? What’s That Mean?

I have a friend, nice guy intelligent, educated (chartered accountant), of mixed Filipino/ UK heritage who lives abroad and is against immigration (his thing is Muslims and headscarves).  Listening to him made me realise two things.  One I agree with him on a lot of it.  Two “immigrants” is a catch all term that is as misleading as it is informative.

When people say immigration do they mean cultural or financial or both?

Cultural Dilution: 


Western Europe pretty much monoculture ( the Irish, French, Germans, Italians etc are pretty much like us).
Africa is also a monoculture (excluding Arab Africa).
Arabian Africa and the Middle East are also a monoculture.

If someone from Ireland or France moves to the UK it is unlikely to change anything much.  On the other hand someone from Saudi Arabia brings with them a whole set of cultural values and norms that are anathema to the UK.  While it is OK for a limited number of people to emigrate here from Saudi (and may enrich our culture/ understanding) I would suggest we don’t want wholesale migration – and this is true for the other continents also.


Economic Migration:

“They come here stealing our jobs.”  In much the same way when people complain about immigrants they are not, in the main, complaining about highly skilled workers from other western European countries where pay scales are similar to (or better than) ours.  The complaints relate more to Eastern Europeans coming here, being paid less and under lower conditions than the indigenous workforce.  I have heard this from Leave voters in the NW of England that low paid, unskilled foreign labour does indeed cut the pay etc for some UK workers.  I have no reason to believe it is not true.   There is a plausible (I believe) argument, that the inclusion of Eastern block countries into the EU was in part a deliberate attempt to provide low paid workers to bolster western European economies.

Some Thoughts.

  1. Legitimate concerns about cultural dilution are used by the far right to promote an “Islamification of Europe” narrative, which is extremist fear mongering.  It’s like a small child breaks your window and all of a sudden a wave of child vandals are sweeping the nation.  A sense of perspective is required and awareness that cultures evolve.  We are not stuck in the 1950’s.
  2.  Immigrants from outside the EU are nothing to do with the EU – if we let them in that’s our choice.  Concerns about immigrants from the Middle East and Africa are still being lumped together with immigrants from within the EU.  It confuses the argument and is wrong.
  3. We already have record low unemployment – if the low paid foreign workers leave who will replace them?  If our manufacturing costs go up will companies stay competitive (depends on their margins on a case by case basis), or will they go under?
  4. If we make all foreigners unwelcome then we also risk losing the highly skilled workers we need – and this is already happening.  Just because you say to someone “we’ll give you a visa” does not mean they want to either arrive or stay

When we talk about “immigrants” we need to be much clearer about who we mean.

The Remain Argument Is Failing

I was in the pub eavesdropping on a group of men whose discussion went like this.

“We shouldn’t pay an EU exit bill, we already pay in more than we get out”.

Which in straight numbers is correct.
We are due to pay £17bn, but we get a rebate and money back for poorer areas….but we still pay £8.6bn a year (£24 million a day) more than we get back.


And this is pretty much the argument Remain made.  Or to paraphrase “we don’t spend £350m a week you lying bastards its only £148m”  ….which is hardly a compelling pro -remain argument.

The argument should be.  We pay £24 million a day to have open access to the biggest market in the whole world and which accounts for 44% of our trade.  £24 million gives us membership of the Single Market, which enables our products to be recognised across the EU without the need to meet 27 different national legislation.  This cuts costs for our businesses and enables multinational marketing and sales in which UK companies can sell products or parts to every country in the EU.  This accounts for 12% of our trade.

£24 million a day also gives us membership of the Customs Union which means that rather than trying to forge our own trade deals against the mega economies of China and America, by acting as part of a block we can meet them on their own terms, with the technical, institutional and financial ability to defend ourselves in international courts.  This enabled a rapid and effective block on Chinese steel dumping which was going to wipe out the UK steel industry.  The independent business body the CBI confirms  that membership of the EU gives us access to more markets, preferential access, and quicker trade deals.  The recent EU – Canada trade deal is estimated to bring £1.3Bn annually to the UK…which we will lose with Brexit.

To simply equate direct money in with direct money back misses the much larger picture.  The economic hit by leaving the EU is predicted to be – between a drop of 3.8% – 7.5% GDP with the worst case scenario of WTO rules  after 15 years  or a drop of 2.5% after 2 years.

A 2.5% drop is £48.5bn a year or nearly 6 times our EU contribution!  That £24 million a day brings in £110 million a day in profit.

Now isn’t that better than “we don’t spend £350m a week you lying bastards its only £148m“?

Further reading:

WTO Rules – Leaving the customs union.

CBI – 10 facts about EU Trade Deals:

Effect of Leaving the EU:
Treasury analysis:

NIESR analysis:
Modelling events:  The short term economic impact of leaving the EU.
Size of the UK economy in 2016:

Calculations:  UK economy 2016 = £1940 bn x 2.5% (the predicted decrease in GDP after 2 years) = £48.5bn drop.

Theresa May…are hurt feelings and revenge the root of hard Brexit?

Like a Pekinese barking at a lion Theresa May seems desperate to give the EU a kicking.  Her belligerence risks herself, her party but most importantly, the UK.  Why is she so intransigent?


I am beginning to wonder if it has little to do with politics, little to do with the national interest and everything to do with hurt feelings – whatever she tells herself.

While she was home secretary Theresa May hit the problem of deporting Abu Qatada, a key al Qaida supporter in the UK and wanted in Jordan for trial.  However under the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) it is illegal to deport anyone for trial if there is the prospect of torture based evidence being used.

Theresa May appealed the court ruling – and lost every time.   Why?  Because torture based evidence is wrong.

The tabloids were in a storm, anti-EU rhetoric was ramped up and Theresa May huffed and puffed.  But eventually Theresa May had to climb down.  She got Jordan to agree not to use torture based evidence and Abu Qatada was deported (and acquitted).

Theresa May positioned this as a victory for her despite the horrible ECHR, while in fact she only succeeded because she climbed down and followed the ECHR ruling that torture based evidence is wrong.

Her recent actions seem to be a replay.  Lots of rhetoric, posturing and expense while courting the tabloid press in order to avoid rulings that are in themselves neither mad nor onerous.  Is Theresa May re-fighting her Abu Qatada battle rather than getting on with the job in hand?  I think she might be.

Prosecuting The Lying Leavers – We Need Your Help Today

Good news is that there is a crowdfunded prosecution planned against Brexiteers who can be shown to have knowingly lied.  Should they be found guilty they cannot stand for public office for 5 years, would have to do some sort of community service.  The idea that Boris and Gove et al would not be able to stand is quite delicious in and of itself but my hope would be that a win (and how could we lose) would provide potent ammunition for a rerun of the referendum.

How you can help:

Do you know a disillusioned Leave voter who would be willing to testify that they were duped?

Make a donation TODAY (there is a time limit after which the case cannot be brought)


How To Lose Friends – Referenda

I was reading today that Nigel Farage agreed with Gina Miller the EU Referendum was only advisory and felt that as a consequence the law should be changed to make them binding.

I think that’s a terrible idea  to see why click here or here.

By and large people who vote in referenda are not qualified to vote.  The issues that come to referendum are horrendously complex.  Take the EU – people make their entire careers understanding one small part.  Yet people come home from work, read what Mr Murdoch or whoever wants them to think and then go, “got it, 10 minutes well spent;  I now know all the issues and how to vote”.  It’s NUTS.

Fundamentally the problem is ego.  We might be willing to accept that the other guy is an idiot who doesn’t know all the issues, but not me – hey I know what it’s about.  The very epitome of head up the arse syndrome.  If we assume that everyone is capable of understanding the issues that STILL doesn’t make people qualified to vote.  A genius who doesn’t take the time to look at the data behind the headlines is no more qualified than anyone else.

Of course even suggesting that maybe people are not informed enough is a great way to lose friends.  People hear “you calling me stupid?” rather than thinking “are all my opinions from newspapers or have I checked the real story?”.    The standard reply is:

“Don’t you believe in democracy?”

To which my answer is:- imagine you are a passenger on a plane with 300 passengers and the pilot has a heart attack and dies.  Do you ask everyone on the plane which button to press, take a vote and go with it…..or do you try to contact an expert on the ground and get them to advise you and then follow their advice?

If you think that no you do not call the expert and listen to them then yes you believe in referenda……but if you would prefer not to die in a fiery (metaphorical) plane crash then maybe you will agree with me that having them legally binding is not the best idea?