The UK’s Immigration Bandwagon Will Continue to Roll

The latest figures for net immigration to Britain have caused a certain amount of consternation, as they should. In 2015, the year before the British voted to leave the European Union, net migration to this country was 330,000. According to the Office for National Statistics, seven years later in 2022, that number had increased to 606,000.

Many people are baffled as to why the numbers should continue to rise so significantly, so it is important to consider the implications which are concealed within the raw data. For instance, two-thirds of all new nurses in Britain since 2019 are foreigners recruited from abroad. Why on earth should that be the case? The answer is that immigration fuels immigration; it is a classic example of a vicious circle or, to use a less emotive term, a feedback mechanism. To make the process easier to understand, perhaps it is useful to look at a specific case and do one or two simple calculations.

Every year, approximately 600,000 overseas students come to live and study in this country. Forget for a moment how many of these might remain in the country or whether they will return to their own countries at the end of the courses—the fact remains that Britain currently has an additional 600,000 people living here every year. This is a situation the Department for Education has suggested is likely to be permanent for years to come. These students will all be eligible to register with a GP: a doctor working for the National Health Service. The average patient list size for GPs in Britain is 1,700; thus, we will need to recruit approximately 350 more doctors to meet the needs of overseas students. This figure is obtained by simply dividing 600,000 by 1,700. To accomplish this, the most efficient and cost-effective method is to seek doctors abroad and offer them more lucrative jobs in Britain than those offered in Africa or Asia. It is likely that we won't acquire all of the doctors necessary just to take care of this tranche of students, meaning the remainder will have to support the caseloads of existing GPs, making it even harder for the rest of us to get an appointment.

Of course, for every doctor working for the NHS, there must also be additional nurses, and this explains in part why we have been hiring all those foreign nurses from India and the Philippines and inviting them to come and live here. The more immigrants who arrive in Britain, the more doctors and nurses will be needed to provide care for them on the National Health Service. This is one instance of the feedback mechanism which I mentioned earlier. The more immigrants who arrive from abroad, the more we need to recruit doctors and nurses, also from abroad, to tend to their needs. This only exacerbates the situation and also creates a need for yet more immigration. In the three years from 2019 to 2022, 43,736 nurses came to this country from abroad to live and work here. A swift calculation tells us that those nurses brought here because of the rising population of residents in the country, such as those 600 thousand students, will also need to register with GPs themselves. They will need another 25 doctors—mostly to be recruited from foreign countries. In this way, every wave of immigration to this country fuels another wave, which in turn also requires further immigration to support it.

Looking at the way that immigration is a self-fuelled process which results, as a matter of course, in more immigration, also exposes the essential flaw in the argument that we desperately need immigrants to come to Britain because we have an ‘ageing population’. Readers will almost certainly be familiar with this line of reasoning, which is frequently advanced as a general justification for high levels of immigration. The theory states that because such a high proportion of people in Britain today are old and frail, and because the birth rate of the indigenous population is low, this means there will not be enough young and active people to do all the work, including taking care of all those poor old folk in care homes. The only solution is to import healthy young workers from abroad. A moment's thought soon reveals that this idea is absurd and misleading. This is because those healthy young immigrants will, in the course of time, themselves become aged and incapable and need to be looked after in nursing homes. Who will take care of this new batch of the 'ageing population'? Why, we’ll have to bring in more immigrants to look after them! Japan also has an 'ageing population,' but manages quite well without inviting immigrants into the country. In fact, they have recently cracked down on illegal immigration, as they have no desire to be overwhelmed by a flood of asylum seekers, like what has happened in Britain.

From all of the above, it may be seen that immigration is, as some have called it in a jocular fashion, "the gift that keeps on giving." The more immigrants who arrive, the more that must be brought in to provide services for them. It is an endless and continuously accelerating operation. The more who come, the more need to come. At the same time, one-quarter of the workforce in Britain is standing idle, with four million people on unemployment benefits and exempt from seeking work. Altogether, ten million British people of working age are unemployed. Thus, one does not need to be an economist to see that there might be a simpler solution than mass immigration to fill vacancies for jobs in care homes or picking fruit, one that is infinitely less damaging to the country.

Cheap labour from abroad is an addiction that can easily take hold of a nation. Training doctors in Britain is a costly endeavour, so what could be more attractive to a lazy politician or civil servant than the idea of avoiding that expense by hiring medical staff who have already been educated elsewhere? Similarly, flying in plane loads of Romanians to bring in the harvest is a lot more straightforward than persuading unemployed young people to live in hostels while they work in the orchards and farms of East Anglia. Meanwhile, middle-class people are keen to have ready access to cheap cleaners, builders, plumbers and nannies, the vast majority of whom are born in foreign countries. The average MP does not seem to consider the potential negative implications of high immigration for the man in the street. Thus, it is likely that the immigration bandwagon will carry on for the foreseeable future.