Skip to main content

Polish Ebb tide

A few years ago there was a great deal of alarmist nonsense talked and written about the influx of Labour from the countries that joined the European Union in 2004. In particular, there was considerable concern that thousands of Poles would swamp the UK.

In fact, as we now know, it did not happen like that. These "economic migrants" were precisely that. Since they had an easy travel regime, they came to the UK freely, but they also left, equally freely. In fact several economists have suggested that the advantage that Britain has had over the past few years in economic performance against France was solely because Britain adopted a more liberal attitude to workers coming from Eastern Europe.

For sometime now, the tide has been in the other direction, and Poles and others are returning home. We now notice that the restrictions that the government put up against workers from Romania and Bulgaria when they joined the European Union were, as Liberal Democrats argued at the time, damaging and counterproductive.

However, easing the restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians, as we are supposed to do in time anyway, will not really help the UK labour force too much. Most of those who wanted to move overseas have already done so, and the UK would not necessarily be a priority anyway, given the linguistic links that Romania, for example, has with Italy and France.

There is, however another country where the UK might think of looking for a pool of well educated and hard working labour.

It is Ukraine.

Ukraine is a slightly larger country than Poland, but would also like to follow in the footsteps of its neighbours into the European Union. Furthermore, because the UK has not joined the Schengen accord, it is perfectly free to create a more relaxed visa regime that encourages the kinds of workers that the UK needs to move here, in the same way that the abolition of restrictions opened up Britain to Poland.

This is of course a mutual economic benefit for both the UK and Ukraine, but it also carries the real possibility of significant political benefits too. Ukraine needs to benefit from new skills and would certainly gain from the remittances that their workers are likely to send home. Like the Poles too, there is also a long standing social infrastructure as anyone who has spent time in the Ukrainian Houses in London or Bradford can tell you. Creating stronger personal links between the two countries could lead to significantly increased investment and ultimately to a more Westernised Ukraine. For as long as Russia maintains its hostile stance to the West, we should do all we can to encourage Ukraine as an example of a freer and more prosperous society to shame the Putinistas in the Kremlin.

Freedom of movement of the Poles has benefited the UK enormously, as they return home, I can see the same benefits being repeated through allowing freer movement for Ukrainians.


Tristan said…
Its somewhat amusing that as Poles are tending to go back to Poland the Sainsbury's near my work has just started stocking some Polish produce.

Then again, given its in Chiswick (and my local Tesco in a less affluent area has had Polish products for a long time now) it could be a sign of increasing affluence in the Polish community.
asquith said…
Excellent post. I think Eastern European immigration since 2004 has been an enormous success. In our towns and cities, there are standing retorts and refutations to the filth the Daily Mail spews. The last thing we should be doing is pandering to the ignorance of the "they're taking our jobs" brigade.

I myself would certainly become an economic migrant if I lived in a poor country. Why should I curse people for showing enterprise and bettering themselves? It's more than some of the idiots who were born here are capable of doing.

I was looking at your link to Phillipe Legrain. Brilliant stuff.
Anonymous said…

This was of course inevitable. Just as inevitably a substantial portion albeit a minority will remain. This is a good thing. I would be interested to hear what you made of the Polish descended MP for Shrewsbury sticking it to the BBC for their treatment of Poles today.

With Ukraine I think the Poles themselves may have beaten us to it.

Newmania said…
The lie that Polish immigration has been of any benefit is only possible if you ignore the costs.

Other immigrant groups are certainly a larger burden per capita and the continued dissonance between the elite and the people over immigration is a betrayal.
Kent is now regarded as a no go area for the indigenous people as its immigrant community is dragging house prices down fast and the rest is following.

I depair at the ignorant doctrinally based immigration fanatics whose lives are never effected and who have no love of the coutry in the first place .Another anti democratic log jam supported by those who in their hearts belivee themselves to be a natural ruling class.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie.  The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship.  The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election". OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.   BUT, and it really is the bi

Breaking the Brexit logjam

The fundamental problem of Brexit has not been that the UK voted to leave the European Union. The problem has been the fact that the vote was hijacked by ignorant, grandstanding fools who interpreted the vote as a will to sever all and every link between the UK and the European Union. That was then and is now a catastrophic policy. To default to WTO rules, when any member of the WTO could stop that policy was a recipe for the UK to be held hostage by any state with an act to grind against us. A crash out from the EU, without any structure to cope, was an act of recklessness that should disqualify anyone advocating it from any position of power whatsoever. That is now the most likely option because the Conservative leadership, abetted by the cowardly extremism of Corbyn, neither understood the scale of the crisis, now had any vision of how to tackle it. Theresa May is a weak and hapless Prime Minster, and her problems started when she failed to realize that there was a compromise that