We need some honesty on migration. We have a government elected on a promise to cut net migration to tens of thousands but also committed to EU membership, and thus the free movement of EU nationals. That is a clear contradiction.
Some people who promise to cut immigration also believe that immigration brings economic benefits. For some, it’s one of the reasons for staying in the EU.
Stuart Rose is arguing that the EU means a more competitive labour market, with lower wages and thus greater margins for employers. But be in no doubt, arguing for EU membership means arguing for free movement and all its implications.
For big business, more profits, for most people wages forced down.
The Remain campaign will be uncomfortable about the EU deal with Turkey being hammered out. On the face of it Britain is able to stay out of any system that allocates Syrian refugees from Turkey to EU states.
But what happens to those refugees? After five years living in an EU state, they get the right to travel and work freely anywhere in the EU. Including Britain.
Anyone voting on Britain’s EU membership should be aware of these facts. They should also be in no doubt that being in the EU means free movement. Nothing in David Cameron’s reform package changes that.
There is no prospect of that basic freedom changing any time soon. The EU means mass migration.
It’s important that British voters know that, so that if Britain votes to stay in, the British people will have given their explicit consent to a continued policy of mass migration.
Those that vote to remain must also recognise that public spending must rise so that communities that experience the highest levels of migration have the resources to meet the higher demand for public services, at the very least.
And by the same token, if Britain votes to Leave, voters will have rejected free movement and we’ll have to a have a proper debate about what should replace it.
Other models of controlled migration, that reduce net migration significantly need to be explored and modelled, presumably with detailed consideration of their economic effects.
Indeed, any post-referendum government trying to establish independent Britain’s immigration policy would presumably have to have the sort of full and open debate with the electorate about immigration that many people feel has been lacking in recent years.
We need a debate that would have to take in benefits as well as costs: “Yes, we can stop the Europeans and refugees coming in, but that might possibly mean lower growth and productivity. Are you happy with that?” And so on.
And the debate must be much more than just the economics. We need to understand the affects on our society, good and bad, and we need to recognise that our way if life will change, perhaps rapidy, perhaps to a point of no return.