Over the past 20 years, net overseas migration into the UK has surged from below 100,000 to around 300,000 people annually:
Much like in Australia, this surge in immigration has created all manner of problems for the incumbent UK population, including massively expensive housing (especially in London, where most migrants go), worsening infrastructure bottlenecks, and over-crowding in schools and hospitals.
The push-back against excessive immigration, and the associated erosion of living standards, is also believed to have been a key factor behind voters’ decision to leave the EU.
Overnight, Prime Minister Theresa May launched the Conservative Party’s Manifesto, which included a commitment to reduce UK immigration below 100,000 (i.e. to pre-2000 norms) via a combination of:
- Doubling the Immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers to £2000 ($3500) a year, using the revenue to train UK workers.
- Toughening visa requirements for students, requiring them to leave the country at the end of their course unless they meet new, higher requirements.
- Increasing the Immigration Health Surcharge to £600 ($1050) for migrant workers and £450 ($780) for international students, to cover their use of the National Health Service (the UK’s version of Medicare).
- Increasing the earnings threshold for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas.
The insufferable left-wing press has been quick to lambast the proposals, sighting ‘xenophobia’ and claiming that capping immigration will cripple the UK’s economy.
But these concerns are misplaced: many of the problems being experienced in the UK – including unaffordable housing, congested economic and social infrastructure, and poor wages growth – are made worse through excessive immigration, and it makes good sense to lower it to more sustainable levels (long-run norms).
In any event, the UK economy, when measured in per capita terms, performed much better when immigration was lower:
There’s a good model here for Australian immigration reform. Whichever political party grabs it first will see its fortunes skyrocket, just as it has for the Tories: