Theresa May’s attempt to reclaim control of UK borders after Brexit could reduce annual migration from the EU by just 50,000 – one-sixth of the current overall annual figure, according to new research.
The projection of a “vanishingly small reduction” is one of the first attempts to estimate how likely labour market demand, and the government’s planned new controls, could reduce the number of migrants coming to the UK. Reduction in immigrant numbers has been repeatedly cited in polls as the chief reason voters backed leaving the European Union.
The report by a new thinktank, Global Future, shows total net immigration, which at the latest official estimate was 335,00 in the year to June 2016, could be expected to fall by no more than 15%, to 285,000 a year. Future free trade deals with non-EU countries suggests even this reduction could be wiped out.
Liam Fox, the international trade minister, accepted last week he did not know of any new free trade deal that did not also include liberalisation of migration rules between the two countries signing such agreements. Australia and India have already indicated they will seek preferential access for their workers as part of a free trade deal.
The government has so far refused to produce its own estimate of the cut in migration from Brexit, or precisely how new controls will operate. But the report’s estimates, which were formulated by breaking down the different elements of net migration from the EU and examining…