Is immigration a reason for Britain to leave the EU?

Is immigration a reason for Britain to leave the EU?

Policy brief
01 October 2013

Britons are increasingly hostile to one of the single market's four freedoms: the free movement of labour. But EU immigration makes Britain's economy stronger. 

  • Britain’s EU immigrants are a boon, not a burden. They are young and more likely to be in work than Britons, and thus pay more in taxes than they take out in benefits and public services. They do, however, push up housing costs – a problem Britain must confront.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, EU immigrants are far less likely to take up benefits than the British population. ‘Benefit tourism’ is a canard: the great majority of EU immigrants come to Britain to work.
  •  If Britain left the EU, future British governments would be more likely than not to curb immigration from the rest of Europe. But as baby-boomers retire and jobs are created at the high- and low-skilled ends of Britain’s labour market, demand for immigrant labour is likely to grow, not shrink.