Accusing Ed Miliband of being ‘anti-business’ was one of the key lines of attack from the Conservative party during the 2015 election campaign. Now their stance on immigration has led to the very same accusation being levelled at them.
The Institute of Directors, an organization that has represented company directors, senior business leaders and entrepreneurs for over 100 years, along with the think-tank British Future warned that David Cameron’s immigration stance is “punishing businesses”. Their statements criticized both the target of reducing net migration and the government’s strategy for meeting it.
Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, described the target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands as ‘bizarre and unachievable’. He felt that this target is distracting people from a ‘sensible and mature debate’ about immigration. Mr Walker also explained that ‘[h]alf of all IoD members employ somebody from outside the UK…they value the different skills people from around the world bring to their business. This can help them enter new markets, expand global connections or just bring a fresh point of view to the table.’ His remarks reiterate the need for companies to have a diverse workforce in a globalized economy.
British Future criticized the ad-hoc approach of the government to immigration control. They argue that, instead of having a coherent overall strategy, the government just reacts to net migration statistics with a wave of new controls. They also criticized the lack of independent scrutiny and public engagement with immigration policy and called for a ‘Comprehensive Immigration Review’ to ensure that the debate moved forward in a sensible way.
The interventions have exposed how attempts to maintain economic growth can be hindered by pandering to irrational fears about immigration.