Migration Watch have come round to the Eurosceptic Blue Labour position they rejected three years ago.
There’s a highly speculative Migration Watch story doing the rounds today which claims that “more than 500,000 EU migrants” are set to “flock to Britain” (the Sun’s words) over the next five years.
It’s hardly surprising that Migration Watch should produce questionable fodder for EU scare stories. More interesting is the change of direction the ‘report’ signals at the organisation.
In the past Migration Watch have always taken the position that EU migration is a red herring, and that the real issue is non-EU migration. Hence this remark from Migration Watch chairman Sir Andrew Green back in 2011, in response to Maurice Glasman’s call for a halt to migration to the UK:
“Although Lord Glasman understands the depth of public feeling on immigration, renegotiating the free movement of people is over the top. It is simply not practicable.”
In light of today’s Migration Watch report, however, Sir Andrew has made a complete U-turn, claiming that we “face a situation where the numbers from inside the EU could form the majority of foreign migrants” and that “there must be a determined renegotiation”:
“It was crazy to have opened up our labour market and our benefit system to 100 million people from countries with a standard of living less than a quarter of our own. There must now be a determined renegotiation.”
So in essence, Migration Watch have come round to the Eurosceptic Blue Labour position they rejected three years ago. What’s strange is that it’s taken them this long to get here, for the situation with regard to EU migration hasn’t changed significantly since 2011.
Indeed, it was just as implausible in 2011 to claim that zero net migration was possible within the EU as it is in 2014.
So what’s changed?
Well Migration Watch are not known for their opposition to the Tory party line, and it seems reasonable to assume that this U-turn is simply a reflection of the greater mood of Euroscepticism in the Conservative Party. It might also been viewed as a victory for the Blue Labour position Migration Watch were so quick to reject three years ago.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.