We at LSS are an international blog, and we can’t afford to take sides. But anyone with eyes to watch a TV cannot have missed the growing tension between China and Western countries over the status of Hong Kong. Britain is at the heart of this, partly as the legacy of its history, and partly because of its close relationship to the USA. Everyone agrees that this will bring problems; but can they be resolved?
The heart of the matter is Britain’s diplomatic gambit: the potential offer of “a path to citizenship” for up to 2.9 million Hong Kong Chinese residents*, if China continues with its present policies (our guess is that they will). Whatever your views on immigration, that is a lot of people, equivalent to the populations of the current cities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool and Bristol.
Now, we at LSS are proud to call ourselves realists. Whatever one’s personal views, only fools would deny that immigration is a number one issue in the UK. All agreed that it was the decisive issue in the 2016 Referendum campaign on EU membership. Whatever the roots of peoples’ concerns, ignoring them is just not viable. Above all, a sudden influx seems to be a psychological tipping point for many people. And if the new UK government policy is activated, the 2.9 million may have to be admitted very quickly. as were the 60 000 Ugandan Asians in 1972. If the policy is to work, the Government will need the consent of its people. And so we call for a UK wide referendum on this issue, as the only means to look for that consent. In General Elections, there are always many issues: if ever there was a one-off, done-and-dusted, this is it. There are precedents; not just the EU referenda, but also the devolution and independence ones in the various countries of the UK. And above all, the whole thing could be done quickly as the arguments are well rehearsed on both sides. For the sake of balance, we offer both sides here, plus links which you can follow up on.
Anti- immigration campaigners will point to the enormous difficulties of trying to suddenly integrate so many newcomers. Net immigration is now at its highest ever, and rising (270 000 in 2019, as opposed to a decade average of 256 000 per year) The population has already risen by six million since 2001. There will need to be an enormous increase in the provision of housing, welfare and health services to say the least. These arguments are summarised by migrationwatch*
A representative view of the other side can be found at the free market Adam Smith Institute. As might be expected, their arguments are always of the classic economic efficiency mode. Abolishing migration caps to allow the best qualified workers leading to faster economic growth. But read it for yourself -they certainly go into detail. In a way the culture of Hong Kong- hard work, high levels of education, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit at all levels is a tribute to the free market ethos which the Adam Smith Institute expounds.
No one can deny that immigration can bring benefits: Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javeed, Sadiq Khan and Priti Patel all hold, or have held important jobs in national life. It would be hard to imagine a premiership team without its complement of foreign players, or universities without the best scientists. However, the issue for most people is the speed of immigration, and how it is controlled.
Let the People decide.
#Hongkong #immigration #referendum #pritipatel #freemarkets