The trouble with euroscepticism

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Bardhyl Salihu

Is that it’s full of anti-immigration rhetoric. From Marine Le Pen in France to Nigel Farage in the UK, eurosceptic parties have taken turns bashing freedom of movement. Farage’s UKIP blame UK’s economic difficulties on immigrants, even though no studies have conclusively shown that immigrants reduce jobs on the net or ‘compress’ wages.

Most immigrants take low-level jobs that Britons wouldn’t want anyway and thus belong to the low-paid category. Whilst reform is necessary to ease the strain on entitlements and the NHS, evidence shows that immigrants are net taxpayers rather than receivers. Taking my own case as a student in the UK, by the time I graduate I will have left behind a sum of money big enough to pay a Briton’s annual salary.

If immigrants aren’t a drag on the economy and their cheap labour benefits British customers through lower prices, what’s the problem?

Apparently they are to blame for the rise in crime as well.

Sure, a number of immigrants commit crimes for which they ought to be held accountable. But opposing immigration altogether to solve this problem is a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s like isolating Glasgow from the rest of UK because of its high crime rates.

It’s unwise to punish the majority of law-abiding immigrants because a few bad guys slipped through the cracks. A more prudent approach would be to improve effectiveness at pointing them out during visa applications and refusing them entry.

Perhaps the only legitimate argument against immigration is culture change. With the inflow of immigrants in the UK that we’ve see these past two decades, the distinctive British values are sure to wane. But is preserving culture so important as to deprive these poor immigrants of the opportunity to have a better life? After all, the efforts that most immigrants have made to become British rather than change Britishness are remarkable.

While there are many reasons to criticize EU, freedom of movement isn’t one of them. It’s a policy which the continent can be proud of.

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