Is Immigration Still Important in British Politics?

  • The BBC, in its recent ‘Crossing Divides- Immigration: Is Britain Becoming Less Anxious?’ article, it has been suggested that immigration now ‘barely registers’ on voters concerns. If it is true, and that Brexit ‘gave voice… To those unused to foreign arrivals’, then how does this compare to the recent European Elections, with Eurosceptic and anti-globalisation parties dominating? Some digging may be required to uncover the reality!
  • As we are all aware, the UK voted to leave the EU on the 23rd of June 2016, with 51.9% of the electorate voting to leave. At the time, migration was by no means the only issue upon deciding this vote, but it was certainly an important one. Slogans such as ‘Vote leave, take back control’ and the ‘Breaking Point’ poster showing Syrian refugees in Hungary were used, highlighting the importance of immigration to the referendum. From this, the Leave campaign utilised migration to capitalise on the anxieties of those who felt left behind, or financially precarious, in Modern Britain. Or, as the BBC put it, gave such people a ‘voice.’
  • But what about the present? Has Britain truly U-turned in the past 3 years, and immigration is no longer viewed negatively by most as the BBC say? Within the May 2019 EU Elections, parties that were supportive of the original referendum results, that being the Brexit Party and UKIP, received 30.5% and 3.2% of the vote respectively, resulting in 39.7% of seats to such parties. As stated on the Brexit Party’s website, they ‘turned the (electorate’s) anger into hope… to implement Brexit (and) uphold democracy.’ Considering that the original referendum was dominated, largely on issues surrounding immigration, and the Brexit Party, among others, wishes to uphold such issues, can it really be said that immigration ‘barely registers’ among voters’ concerns?
  • As the BBC’s poll by Ipsos Mori would suggest, 48% of the British population believe immigration has overall had a positive impact on the UK. It is worth noting however, that the sample size for said poll involved roughly 20,000 people, only 1400 of which were from the UK. So what does this mean surrounding the UK’s opinions on migration?
  • Overall, to say that immigration ‘barely registers’ as a concern for voters would certainly seem to be untrue, when the great size difference of the EU Election and the poll are considered. Although Eurosceptic parties may have won the majority, the fact that pro-European parties, when combined, won a similar proportion of seats, would certainly demonstrate migration as being as divisive and critical as ever.

Author: Andy Poole

 

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