OPINION: Freedom of movement comes to an end: A self-harming measure but a win for Brexiteers
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2020 has been dominated by the coronavirus and Brexit has been left in the shadows. That’s quite astonishing when you consider that Boris Johnson ran his entire campaign on getting Brexit done. However, Priti Patel’s recent announcement was a reminder that the Government hasn’t forgotten its pledges to the British people. 

Like it or not, freedom of movement was a big reason why people decided to vote Leave. Many people saw mass immigration as a problem and felt that it needed to be halted. Being a member of the European Union required countries to subscribe to the freedom of movement initiative, allowing Europeans to freely move across Europe without the need for excessive paperwork. 

Change perceptions

Hopefully, this move will help curb the negative stereotype that is attached to migrants in the United Kingdom. Overseas workers will now be providing a more specialised service and cannot be slandered for doing anything else. When you think of migrants, you will think of doctors, academics and people of business. It's a new image that will be tough to counter. The negative stereotype of migrants was never effectively challenged. 

Taken from The Independent:

“Migrants from the EU contribute £2,300 more to the exchequer each year in net terms than the average adult, the analysis for the government has found.

"And, over their lifetimes, they pay in £78,000 more than they take out in public services and benefits - while the average UK citizen’s net lifetime contribution is zero.”

Financial evidence details the importance of migrants to the British economy. Illegal immigration is a different story, of course, but the boundaries were blurred. 

Illegal migrants were bad news because they didn’t have the appropriate documents to reside in Britain. Legal migrants were bad news because they were looking to exploit the “lucrative” British welfare system, or they were stealing your job! 

In short, all non-British workers had a stigma placed upon them that wasn’t fought hard enough. Xenophobic narratives grew traction and then it stuck, like honey to bees. But there is nothing particularly sweet about the hatred and bile that latched onto big swathes of the British public. 

It will be particularly interesting to see how the vacancies are filled in low-skilled labour such as fruit picking. Farmers had a particularly tough time trying to fill the void left at the start of the coronavirus when many Eastern European workers returned to their home countries. 

Many British workers couldn’t be bothered to step-up while many that couldn’t cope with the demands of the job. Honest farmers who struggle to turn over a profit will not be able to employ people under the same terms because the hunger from more entitled younger Brits simply isn’t there. However, there is a flip side. 

Some employers will exploit the use of foreign workers. Low pay, poor conditions and long hours. These employers will benefit from a modern day form of slave labour. 

Earlier this year, Nigel Farage held a dairy herdsman to account after he claimed that he provided a package worth up to £36,000-per-yearfor workers on his farm. The farmer claimed that he would be unable to recruit British workers to fill the gaps of Filipinos if freedom of movement came to an end. The idea that this financial package would not attract a British labourer is laughable; one imagines that this caller on LBC had made a habit out of exploiting foreign workers. 

Ironically, Farage is seen as a cheerleader for the spreading of negative rhetoric towards immigrants but, in his discussion with the dairy herdsmen, he is highlighting how they may have been subjected to oppression by their employers. 

As a disclaimer, the aforementioned farmer may be a genuinely nice employer. But there are many employers who seek to exploit workers that are vulnerable; non-native English speakers are a key target because they will not be able to defend themselves as effectively.  

Self harm

Sadly, freedom of movement is a benefit to everybody involved. It means that Britons can holiday and work in Europe without much of a second thought, but many didn't think about that. It is also a slap into the face of the low-skilled foreign workers that helped to keep us safe during the pandemic. Our key workers. 

Nonetheless, it's certainly a victory for the Brexiteers. 

Patel is simply following the mandate of the people in 2016. This stance is the Government's attempt at taking back control of Britain's borders, improving national security and putting Britain first.

With the recent Election victory of the Democrat Leader, Joe Biden, populism has taken a hit in America. In the United Kingdom, populism is still very much alive and kicking.