Politicians from both major parties, along with trade unionists and business leaders, announced the launch of a group committed to “open and honest debate” about UK immigration this week.
The Migration Matters Trust, backed by Boris Johnson, former Labour minister Barbara Roche and Conservative MP Gavin Barwell, aims to tackle the “new anti-immigration consensus” which, they feel, has been blown out of proportion by extremists. The also insist that ethnic minorities should participate in the immigration debate.
The UK Visa Bureau says that the group could bring about changes which are beneficial to both the immigration system and potential immigrants.
A leading think tank predicted that net migration, though predicted to fall next year, will recommence a gradual rise by 2014.
The Migration Review 2012/13, published on 30 December by the Institute for Public Policy Research, showed that migration will drop to 140,000 in 2013 from 180,000 at the end of last March which was then a fall of 25%.
Predictions for the new year include: a fall in non-EU student immigration; a continued decline in non-EU immigration for work and family reasons; a small increase in asylum claims and rising net emigration by both UK and non-EU nationals.
For 2014 the IPPR forecasts that net migration will rise as Eastern European citizens (from Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007) will gain the right to live and work unrestricted in Britain under the EU’s “freedom of movement” rules.
IPPR chief Sarah Mulley said: “The net migration target is keeping out migrants who make a significant economic contribution and are not the focus of public concerns.”
Next year’s migration figures are crucial for the government which is half way through it’s parliament in which it pledged to reduce net migration by “tens of thousands”. The figures will also be the final annual statistics available before the 2015 election.
A coalition scheme to attract 1,000 scientists and artists to Britain within the year has attracted just 50 top academics.
The Tier 1 “exceptional talent” schemed fast-tracked visas of leading foreign academics could apply for visas to the Royal Society, the Arts Council, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the British Academy. It aimed to boost Britain’s research credentials on the world stage. Despite a quota of 1,000 visas to hand out annually, only around five per cent of that number had been given away by October, more than a year into operation.
Nobel Prize winner, Andre Geim, criticised Britain’s “stupid” immigration reforms in the Independent on Sunday, this week.
The Russian physicist, who will benefit from a £21.5 million government grant into the study of graphene, said that new restrictions on non-EU immigrants and tighter student visa rules are blocking the brightest academics from working at British institutions. He added that such restrictions would have prevented himself and colleague Konstantin Novoselov from discovering the super-material that is expected to help the UK economy become more successful.
Nobel winner Sir Andre Geim: new immig curbs on graduate salary would have prevented my Nobel breakthrough @Independentind.pn/UBiGEV