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UK politics

Why Brexit is boosting immigration

Boris Johnson: taking back control? Will Oliver/EPA/Shutterstock

Forget the furore over government plans to send migrants who cross the Channel to Rwanda, says Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times. The real story is in the recently published figures for the first year of Britain’s “post-Brexit immigration policy”. Last year, it turns out, nearly 240,000 work visas were granted, 25% more than in 2019. The recipients were overwhelmingly skilled workers from outside the EU – India was top, followed by Nigeria.

On the face of it, this might seem like a bad news story for Boris Johnson – wasn’t the whole point of Brexit to curb immigration? Not so. Leaving the EU was really about replacing the free movement of Europeans with a “bespoke” system geared at attracting talent from all over the world. It has allowed us, for example, to offer visas to hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers, a move that even drew praise from hardcore Remainer Lord Adonis. Unlike Theresa May, who was obsessed with curbing immigration when she was PM, Johnson has realised that “red wall”, working-class voters aren’t worried about high-skilled Indians or Hongkongers rocking up and taking their jobs. They simply want migration to be controlled by a government “answerable to the electorate”, not by Brussels. And that’s exactly what’s happening.