Limit Post-Brexit EU Immigration to 30,000, Migration Watch Says

  • Group says only highly skilled EU workers should be allowed in
  • EU immigration to U.K. was net 180,000 in year to March

The U.K. should limit the number of work permits issued to European Union nationals to 30,000 a year after it withdraws from the bloc, the immigration campaign group Migration Watch said.

Only highly skilled workers should be allowed to move to Britain, with new restrictions on the less skilled allowing Britain to reduce net migration from the 27 other EU members by about 100,000 a year, the group said on Wednesday in an e-mailed report. There should be no curbs on students, pensioners, business visitors or tourists, it said.

“A sensible limit on skilled EU migration would maintain the inflow of qualified EU workers who benefit our society and economy while allowing some room for expansion,” Migration Watch’s vice-chairman, Alp Mehmet, said in a statement. “At the same time, closing our doors to low-skilled workers is also essential to reduce the scale of immigration and restore public confidence in its control.”

Concerns about immigration levels fueled Britain’s vote in June to pull out of the EU, which has the free movement of citizens as a condition of membership. Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain’s Brexit deal must allow the country to control the number of immigrants coming from EU member states. Net migration to Britain was a near-record 327,000 in the year ending in March, according to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics. That included 180,000 EU citizens.

Migration Watch’s proposals “may leave British business short of the workers they need,” Chuka Umunna, chairman of Vote Leave Watch, a pro-EU group set up to hold Brexit campaigners to account for their promises, said in a statement. “Despite the Brexit vote, Britain must continue to be an open country that welcomes talent from Europe and across the world.”

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