Storbritannia er det mest tettbefolkede land i Europa ved siden av Malta. Ifjor var nettoinnvandringen på tett under 200.000, en økning på 20 prosent. Lib-Tory-regjeringen lover å stramme inn fra april neste år, men den har den samme frykt som forgjengeren for familiegjenforening og henteekteskap fra det subindiske kontinent, skriver Daily Telegraph.
Folks oppfatninger ligger langt foran politikernes, skriver avisen.
Two sets of data published yesterday demonstrate why immigration, which politicians remain reluctant to debate, is of such concern to the public. New figures from the Office for National Statistics show net migration last year of 196,000, an increase of almost 20 per cent over 2008, while in the 12 months to June, the numbers granted permanent settlement in the UK rose by over a third. Meanwhile, a new analysis by the House of Commons library shows that England is (after the island of Malta) the most densely populated country in the European Union. Official projections indicate that by 2050, we will have the biggest population in Europe.
These figures simply confirm what people see with their own eyes – that after more than a decade of virtually unfettered immigration under a Labour government that saw electoral benefit in such a policy, our country is desperately overcrowded. The public pressure for more rigorous immigration controls is far less to do with xenophobia or racism (we remain one of the most tolerant countries in Europe) and far more to do with the intolerable pressures imposed on our public services and infrastructure, and therefore on our quality of life. The Coalition proposes to address this problem by imposing an annual cap on economic immigration from next April, a move that is being resisted by employers who say it could inhibit the recovery by depriving them of specialist skills. It is a poor reflection on the state of education and training in this country that with a workforce of 30 million people, businesses feel they have to look overseas to fill skill gaps. In fact, it is not skilled immigrants that are the issue, but the unskilled, mainly from within the EU, who are prepared to do the low-wage jobs that British workers refuse to take, because they are better off on benefits – another reason why welfare reform is vital to our long-term economic well-being.
To a great extent, however, the focus on economic migration misses the real target, which is the number settling here through family reunion and marriage. The largest single non-EU element in net immigration comprises spouses and family members from the Indian sub-continent. This raises difficult social and cultural questions that politicians are reluctant to engage with – hence their concentration on economic migration. But the political classes are lagging far behind the general public: it took the intervention of Gillian Duffy, «that bigoted woman», to shoe-horn immigration into the last general election campaign. Such political timidity does the country a disservice. Immigration raises serious and potentially divisive problems that must be addressed. We ignore them at our peril.
Immigration is more than an economic issue
New figures simply confirm what people see with their own eyes – that our country is desperately overcrowded