POLITICS

Brexit Briefing: Rotting Food And A Rude Frenchman

If you voted leave because you wanted less immigration, you might be disappointed

23/02/2017 17:20 GMT | Updated 23/02/2017 17:48 GMT
 
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All you need to know from the world of Brexit this week.

1) Thank Goodness The Leave Campaign Wasn’t All About Immigration As The Government Isn’t Going To Do Much to Reduce It For A Long Time

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This week the president of the National Farmers Union warned what happen to the UK if there was suddenly a dearth of migrants.

Speaking at NFU conference on Tuesday, Meurig Raymond said: “Without a workforce — permanent and seasonal — it wouldn’t matter what a new trade deal looks like.

“The lights would go out in our biggest manufacturing sector, food will rot in the fields and Britain will lose the ability to produce and process its own food. That is not what a successful Brexit looks like.”

It is still unclear how the Government will get British workers to fill the estimated 22,000 agriculture jobs taken by Europeans.

But perhaps they might not bother.

Brexit Secretary David Davis continued his tour of Eastern Europe this week, and while in the Estonian capital of Tallinn he dropped some pretty big news about immigration.

“Don’t expect just because we’re changing who makes the decision on the policy, the door will suddenly shut: it won’t,” said Davis. In other words, if you voted leave to reduce immigration from the EU, you might be waiting for a long time.

And why is that?

Because it’s going to take time to fill the skills gaps in the economy currently plugged by migrants – particularly in the health and social care sectors.

But of course migrants do not just take skilled jobs, but also provide unskilled labour – particularly in agriculture.

As Davis said: “Even on the wider area, where we’ve got less well-paid people who have come to live and work in Britain, that will take time.”

2) Migrants are taking matters into the own hands when it comes to reducing the numbers coming to the UK. 

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Figures released today by the Office For National Statistics show net migration fell from 335,000 to 273,000 to the year ending September 2016.

Of the 596,000 who came to the UK (down 23,000), 268,000 were EU citizens, 257,000 non-EU citizens and 71,000 British citizens.

Emigration was estimated to be 323,000 (up 26,000) comprising 103,000 EU citizens, 93,000 non-EU citizens and 128,000 British citizens.

Bearing in mind the Government want to get the net migration level to below 100,000, they are still way off. Even if just non-EU citizens were included – the group that the government can limit – net migration would still be at 164,000.

Of the 184,000 EU citizens who came to the UK for work (i.e. not students or spouses), 113,000 had a job to go to when they arrived.

The ONS’s Nicola White said: “This is the first release to contain long-term international migration estimates including three months of data following the EU referendum.

“Although we have seen a fall in net migration of EU8 citizens there have been continued increases in immigration from Romania and Bulgaria, so it is too early to say what effect the referendum result has had on long-term international migration.”

3) Theresa May Decided To Troll The Lords In Person But It Wasn’t All That To Be Honest 

Parliament TV

The Article 50 Notification Bill reached the House of Lords this week, and frankly, it was a non-event. Peers spent two days debating the legislation, but it was all hot air.

“The only bit of real excitement came when Theresa May decide to enter the House of Lords to watch the debate.

The imagery was superb, as the unelected prime minister sat at the foot of a throne used by an unelected head to state while unelected peers thrashed out the finer points of democracy.

Still, it made a good picture.

Next week will be interesting as actual proper votes will take place. The Lords – where the Government does not have a majority – could send the Bill back to the Commons with amendments to guarantee the rights of EU citizens and also give Parliament a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal.

4) French Presidential Candidate Emmanuel Macron Doesn’t Mind Being A Bit Rude

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images

With just two months to go until the French presidential election, one of the leading candidates popped over to see Theresa May this week. She didn’t specifically invite him, but Emmanuel Macron apparently wanted to chat to the PM about Brexit and the refugee camps at Calais.

After the meeting, Macron stood outside Downing Street and metaphorically stuck two fingers up to his host.

“I was very happy to see that some academics and researchers in the UK because of Brexit are considering coming to France to work.

”It will be part of my programme to be attractive for these kinds of people.

“I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on.

“I think that France and the European Union are a very attractive space now so in my programme I will do everything I can to make it attractive and successful.”

You can’t blame the guy for wanting to talk up his country, especially when he is fighting against the far right Marine Le Pen who is constantly trying to claim the patriotic mantel for herself.

But I’m not sure how I would feel if a friend of an ex invited themselves to my house in the middle of a divorce, walked outside afterwards and told all my mates: “Yeah, we’re going to take the whole lot: big tele, surround sound, Netflix subscription, the really good towels, all of it.”

5) Boris Johnson Wants To Reclaim The English Language From A Swedish MEP

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Now, as we all know, there is nothing Boris Johnson hates more than people bringing up the Second World War to make political points. We know this because in the Commons during a debate on Trump’s travel ban policy he said: “I do find it distasteful to make comparisons between the elected leader of a great democracy and 1930s tyrants.”

Imagine how angry the Foreign Secretary must have been this week when he himself was accused of referencing the war. At a security conference in Munich, he claimed Brexit is a “liberation” for the UK, a word which provoked a strong response from Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt.

“I would like to tell the foreign minister of the UK that the word liberation in the history of Europe has a very strong meaning. In these challenging times talking about liberating Britain from the European Union is just bad taste.”

BoJo replied: “I say, come on. I have to say, I hesitate to accuse you of pomposity, but the word liberation clearly means ... it’s etymologically equivalent to being freed, and I’m afraid it’s an undeniable fact that we, the UK, has been unable to do, to run its own trade policy for 44 years.

“We now have an opportunity to do exactly that. I think people should be very proud and very excited by that and that is exactly what we are.”

He went: “And I want to reclaim the English language, if I may. There is absolutely no reason why I should not use the word ‘liberation’ to refer to our ability to take back control of our tariff schedules in Geneva and do our own free trade deals. And I’m sorry, but I’m going to disagree with you emphatically.”

Boris Johnson, the man who once attacked “gloomadon poppers”, wants to take back control of the English language.

Good for him.