Election 17: How Brexit has affected pledges on immigration

on June 7, 2017

The vote to leave the EU has created an ongoing debate about the level of immigration and how parties propose to control it. In a special election report for Birmingham Eastside, Nuria Riquelme explains how parties have changed their promises about immigration over the past two years.

If during the 2015 UK Election promises about immigration and how to deal with European immigrants were based on hypothetical scenarios, in 2017 all manifestos reflect how to deal with Brexit’s challenge to the UK, respecting the results of the Referendum, but interpreting it according to their own politics and beliefs.

The first thing that is worth highlighting is how every party has added a new page to their manifestos: the UK after Brexit, directly linked to immigration and future relationships with the EU.

Conservative policy on immigration after Brexit

The Conservatives have moved their politics from controlling who is living in the UK and who is receiving benefits from the governments, to punishing immigration, promoting an increase in the Immigration Skills Charge for those companies employing foreigners instead of British citizens, and making it harder for international students to stay in the country.


From the Conservative Manifesto

Theresa May also said last month that the Conservative party will be able to keep the annual net immigration in ten of thousands, despite having failed to do so for the past 6 years. With Brexit, they claim: “We will be able to bring numbers down to sustainable levels”.

Labour: ending free movement but not blocking international students

The Labour party claim that they will end free of movement between the UK and EU, but in a more diplomatic way, being no longer members of the same union but partners with a good relationship.

That is why, when in 2015 they claimed tougher immigration policies, in this campaign they have promised, among other things, that students won’t be considered as immigrants and EU programs as Erasmus will continue.

They also say they will assign funds to areas where immigration is helping the public sector in the UK.


From the Labour Manifesto

UKIP: zero immigration

UKIP have used their new manifesto to claim that Brexit was won thanks to their political effort, and to promise to improve public services once the UK is out of the EU, with net migration cut down to zero.

With this line, UKIP claims to fight against non-qualified immigration to the country, allowing just those with skills to live and work in the country, besides ending freedom of movement between the EU and the UK.


From UKIP Manifesto

Lib dem policy on immigration

The Liberal Democrats are the party to have designed policies that are more “immigration-friendly”.

If in 2015 they wanted open borders in the UK and help for the integration of immigrants. Now they want to fight for continuing with the free movement across the EU and to welcome Syrian refugees to the country, among other pledges.

Liberal democrats

From the Liberal Democrats Manifesto

The Green Party: keeping EU freedom of movement

Similarly, the Green Party appeals in 2017 for immigration policies that implement visas for those seeking asylum from countries where their lives are on danger, and to keep the freedom of movement between the EU and the UK.


From the Green party Manifesto

Deciding on their own immigration policy: the SNP and Plaid Cymru

Finally, both the SNP (Scottish National Party) and Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) want to create immigration policies for their countries in 2015, and have proposed pledges that give the power to both Scotland and Wales to decide for themselves how to deal with their own immigration.


From the SNP Manifesto


From the Cymru Manifesto

Whatever the vote tomorrow, significant decisions about immigration will be taking place as the UK works out how to operate outside the EU in less than two years’ time. Those elected will have in their hands the decisions on what kind of deal they want with their European neighbours, and how this will affect both the lives of Brits living abroad and immigrants residing in the UK.

Follow all our election coverage including live video on election night on our #UKVotes17 page here, on our Facebook page, on Twitter and on Instagram @bhameastside

Former journalism student, current journalism learner. After few experiences in local news in Spain I am looking forward new journalistic experiences and challenges here or overseas.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: