A report by independent think tank British Future has suggested that although Brexit presents challenges for decision makers, it also offers an opportunity to get immigration policy right so the public’s trust in the system can be restored. The “immediate priority” should be securing the future of the 3.5m EU nationals living in the UK – an opinion shared by 84% of the public who believe that EU citizens already living in the UK should be allowed to stay.
The report by British Future came ahead of the publication of net migration statistics yesterday, which found that net migration to the UK was 327,000 for the year to March. Although this figure is down 9,000 on the previous year, it is significantly higher than the government’s target of reducing the level of net migration to “tens of thousands”.
A separate survey conducted by British Future revealed that only 37% of the British public think that the government will meet the net migration target in the next 5 years, even after leaving the EU, compared to 44% who considered it unlikely.
However, there is much political and public support for highly skilled migration with three-quarter of those polled agreeing with the call for a “sensible policy to manage immigration that controls who comes to the UK, but still keeps the immigration that is good for our economy and society, and maintains Britain’s tradition of offering sanctuary to refugees who need protection”.
In their report, British Future recommended that the government:
To conclude, it’s important to know that Britain’s decision to leave the EU will have a significant impact on our approach to immigration and it gives the government the opportunity to listen to the public’s concerns and take aboard their opinions to ensure that the new immigration system works thus restoring the public’s faith in them.
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