- Opinion surveys consistently show that the British public is overwhelmingly hostile to immigration.
- However, if we dig a little deeper into the polling data, a more differentiated picture emerges. Most people in Britain are not per se “anti immigration” or “pro-immigration”. Despite overall hostility to immigration, there are types of immigration that are widely accepted, or even popular with the public.
- This means that there are opportunities to liberalise our approach to immigration in some respects with popular support.
- Contrary to the way the debate is usually framed, concerns about immigration are not really about overall numbers. Anxieties about immigration are primarily cultural, not economic.
- There is a two-thirds majority for free movement between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK (“CANZUK”). This is a clear-cut example of where immigration policy can be liberalised with public support. Free movement between these countries should be introduced immediately, ideally on a reciprocal basis, or unilaterally if not.
Institute of Economic Affairs