Mark Pritchard MP: A vote for Remain is a vote for jobs
Conservative MP Mark Pritchard writes that EU migration & a vibrant economy a 'two sides of the same coin' and urges against 'pulling up the jobs drawbridge' by leaving.
For an open free market economy like Britain, migration is necessary. Without the free movement of labour, Britain’s economy would, over time, falter.
In an increasingly global marketplace EU migration allows Britain’s economy to grow and prosper. There is a positive case to be made for EU migration, something thus far missing from the referendum debate.
Those who want to introduce an artificial EU migration cap and limit the demands of London’s labour market would put British business in an economic straight jacket. An inflexible cap would hold back business expansion and create a recruitment crisis.
There are 745,000 job vacancies in Britain and a record number of people in employment. The reality is, that there are some jobs British citizens just aren't qualified to do or just aren't prepared to do. This skills and labour shortage has historically been driven by a work shy culture and a failure of large parts of the education sector to match the labour demands of the national economy.
Thanks to the government's education reforms far more subjects are being taught in colleges and universities that are driven by the skills and training demands of the economy. Similarly, welfare reforms now require people who can work, do work.
Over time British people will be better qualified, better skilled and moved off benefits. This is already underway. British companies will have more choice, employing qualified British workers or continuing to employ qualified EU citizens. This alongside the eventual recovery of the Eurozone, and with more British people accessing the workplace, EU migration is likely to plateau and eventually fall.
Additionally, the Prime Minister's EU reforms will soon reduce the pull factors that for so long attracted EU citizens to Britain simply to take advantage of a generous benefits system. Most EU citizens come to Britain to work not to scrounge - something highlighted by a recent London School of Economic study but ignored by some in the Brexit camp. Britain’s migration attraction is not a sign of political weakness but a sign of Britain’s economic success.
Whatever some politicians may say, EU migration cannot be disaggregated from the success of the British economy. Any government tempted to enforce arbitrary and artificial caps, curbing the free movement of EU labour, will endanger economic prosperity. Moreover, such overt government interventionism would be fundamentally illiberal, un-Conservative, and the antithesis of a belief in free and open markets.
From EU staff serving in London’s bars and clubs, to Lithuanian fruit pickers in Shropshire, Polish maths teachers in Birmingham, or Hungarian doctors in Glasgow, EU migrants are making a real difference to the life and work of Britain - every day of every week. Perhaps if Britain was the United States, it would be seen as thousands of EU migrants migrating to a more prosperous country seeking a better life for themselves and their families - the British Dream.
Remaining in the European Union is not a green light for uncontrolled migration but it is standing up for Britain continuing to be a flexible open market economy that attracts people with the right skills and training to help run British business. Despite the revisionism of some who want to quit Europe, Britain’s meta-narrative has always been one of migration and inclusivity. Britain’s history is proudly outward looking, international, free trading, a nation whose economic history has always been inextricably linked to Europe.
Those who want to turn their back on Europe should set out clearly what EU migration cap they would impose? Who would the Brexiteers envisage filling the hundreds of thousands of British job vacancies? How could British businesses expand and grow if they were prevented from recruiting? These key questions remain unanswered and underline the economic risks to Britain if Brexit happens.
EU migration and economic success are two sides of the same coin. That is why all of Britain’s leading business organisations, the Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors and the British Chamber of Commerce all back remaining in the European Union. Pulling up the jobs drawbridge would be bad for the British economy and bad for Britain. A vote for Remain is a vote for jobs – jobs for all.
Mark Pritchard MP is the Conservative MP for The Wrekin and a supporter of the UK remaining in the European Union