Written by Helen Williams.
As the Remain campaigners were perhaps too slow to recognise, the real battleground of the EU Referendum was immigration, not the economy (although the two are, of course, inextricably linked in practice). Immigration has remained the focus of Theresa May’s approach to Brexit, underpinning her oft-repeated stance that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK’ (Conservative manifesto (hereafter CM), p. 36) – a statement that cannot make sense if speaking from an economic perspective. Labour’s manifesto directly counters this: ‘In trade negotiations our priorities favour growth, jobs and prosperity. We make no apologies for putting these aims before bogus immigration targets’ (Labour manifesto (hereafter LM), p. 28). This is also a direct swipe at the Tories’ continued commitment to reduce annual net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands (CM, p. 54). Both parties’ statements on migration address Brexit, the economy, healthcare, students, and families. The position they take on each of these show remarkable differences. This blog specifically looks at the issue of family migration.