A mobile workforce is good for many reasons. It means that workers can work. It means that skilled professionals are doing their job. It means that those without skills can move to find work. Immigrants to this country make a net contribution to the country. They provide an essential service and boost our economy. So how did a mobile workforce within the EU become a dirty word? Well it doesn't help when UKIP call for a five-year freeze on immigration. It doesn't help when 'Jack Straw regrets opening door to Eastern Europe migrants'.
Immigration is seen by some as an awful concept, and they use arguments like we are a small island and we don't have enough jobs for the current population. The trouble with this is that immigrants come to the UK and work. They add to our economy and play a vital role. Why is it alright to stop immigration but not emigration? We want the freedom to work elsewhere but we don't want to give it to others even when it is to our advantage?
Should we be able to study in other countries? Of course we should. We would have to pay for the privilege but that goes without saying and that is what foreign students are doing in our universities. Should we be able to use our manual labour in other countries? Well if we can compete against the locals (if there are any locals applying) and get that offer of employment then we should be able to emigrate. Similarly if we have a skill that is needed elsewhere then we should have the freedom to take up offers of employment. If enough professionals take up these offers then it may be called a brain drain but that's the price of freedom. Nobody calls it a brain drain when we have foreign doctors working in our hospitals.
Any argument for emigration may be turned around and used for immigration. It isn't a bad thing but is a sign of freedom. It makes sense that immigrants come to work here. They don't come to take benefits. The argument should be about helping our economy and a free movement of the workforce does just that. What doesn't help is Jack Straw saying that no restrictions on 'eastern European' (why not France or Spain or anywhere else?) migrants was a 'spectacular mistake'.
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