Gordon Brown nails it on immigration and EU membership

Former PM offers a moment of clarity


In a welcome moment of clarity in the EU referendum campaign, former prime minister Gordon Brown eloquently dealt with the Brexiters’ argument that Britain would be more able to control immigration if we left the EU.

Leaving, they say, would save us from the gazillions of migrants flooding Europe, desperate to reach Britain and drain our health service, welfare system and housing market.

Answering a question from the Financial Times after his speech today, Brown said:

‘One part of people’s worries [are] about the impact of immigration and how we can manage immigration in the future. And my point to you is that around the world at the moment, the biggest problem is with illegal, irregular immigration.

When you think about how to cope with that problem of immigration you can only do so by co-operation between countries.

Where people are coming through these countries into Europe and if there is a cross-border trade in people – which there is, smuggling, trafficking people against their will into countries – you can only deal with that through international co-operation.’

The merits of this argument are:

  1. It accepts that immigration is largely a good thing for Britain
  2. It considers migrants as humans and often victims
  3. It assumes that immigration is best addressed, not through demagogy, but efficient (and humane) regulation, processing and so on. (How else can it be ‘controlled’?)
  4. It argues that the best way to do this is obviously to co-operate with the governments of other countries. What the resulting policies look like is a separate argument, but some kind of ‘joined up’ approach across European borders is plainly desirable, and more likely for members of a political union.

For reasons to do with its balancing act on immigration, the Conservative wing of the Stronger In campaign is unlikely to make this argument with the same clarity and confidence. The Left ought to take it up and kick out one of the central pillars of the Leave campaign.

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5 Responses to “Gordon Brown nails it on immigration and EU membership”

  1. NHSGP

    Why believe a man who QUADRUPLED the pension debt in just over 5 years?

  2. Jennifer

    Relating to the EU, I do not agree with Gordon Brown as I am a confirmed Brexiteer. However, I firmly believe that he was the most effective Chancellor in modern history and also, arguably, the most unfairly maligned. Of course he made mistakes. Who doesn’t? However, he saved the global economy back at the G20 summit in 2009, which is widely admitted and admired throughout the world, if not consistently in the UK. The globally revered Brookings Institution declared this to be “the most successful summit in history;” chaired and guided by one Gordon Brown. Added to which, speaking of pensions, he has always refused to take his own Prime Minister’s pension. can you imagine any of the current crop turning down their pensions?! Why do so many people focus entirely on the negatives?

  3. John

    I welcome these coments from Gordon Brown. Populations are (now) continually moving, or trying to move, to be away from conflict, climate change (ref no water, food, land zones) and who can blame them. The fact that there could be terrorists hiding amongst them is the ‘price’ we are now paying for the political agreements reached in 1948(?) and afterwards with regards to Israel & Palestine. As regards the right wing conservatives & US republicans attitude to immigrants – ‘no man is an island’.

  4. Mick Hills

    The fact remains that a yearly influx of over 300,000 people coming to the country it is a major and critical argument for the brexit team. No answers have been given by Gordon as to how this number can be reduced and its pointless using the argument that immigration is “good” for the country, people on the doorstep do not believe it and they don’t want to believe it either. They want reductions and that is the weakness in the IN teams argument. Unless a pathway can be found that tells people that reductions will be attempted minds will not be changed I am afraid. I wish they could be.

  5. Lord Fauntleroy de Belize

    Like my fellow Lord – Brown, I totally agree that immigration is a good thing. On each of my estates, including one near Lord Brown in Scotland, I use cheap workforces from the Romanian and Bulgarian European partnerships. My factories are run at the most efficient levels thanks to immigrants. Starbucks, Shell Oil, and other companies which avoid taxation quite legally through their international globality are all in favour of immigration arranged with our European connections. Where would our schools and hospitals be without our continental teachers nurses and consultants? To maintain our prosperity we must remain in Europe!

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