I agree with Lord Rose of the Britain stronger in Europe campaign. He has in the past told us the UK can do well outside the EU. More recently he has confirmed that if we stay in the EU there will continue to be substantial migration, which will keep down wages at the lower end of the jobs markets.
I disagree with Lord Rose when he says that rising wages are “not necessarily a good thing”. If someone has been well paid for much of his life, he should be careful recommending much lower pay for everyone else, and particularly careful about entering politics to preach the joys of sacrifice, low wages and a plentiful supply of cheap labour for others.
The government rightly wishes to see wages rise. It has put in its new policy of a living wage, requiring wages to be higher by law. Leaving the EU would be a quicker and easier way of achieving this goal. Now we know 630,000 EU migrants last year were granted National Insurance numbers, we can see just how big the downwards pressure on UK wages must be from new arrivals. It is a strange policy combination to require people by law to pay more money when open borders means queues of people willing to take less just to get a job. Out of the UK we could impose sensible controls on inward migration to take low paid jobs.
I was never a fan of the policy of enlargement of the EU. The UK’s official stance was to foster enlargement, with some people thinking that would slow down progress to political union and to so called deepening, or more EU government. The opposite happened, as some of us feared at the time. Instead of enlargement leading to loosening, it led the established member states to want to tighten controls and have more centrally determined policies. It also encouraged them to have more majority voting so smaller poorer countries could not hold up their wishes for more EU laws.
What it also did was encouraged large numbers of people in low wage countries to use their rights under freedom of movement to go to the UK and Germany where there were jobs available with much better wages. This prolonged domestic unemployment in the richer countries, and stripped the poorer countries of some of their most talented and enterprising people. Well skilled Eastern Europeans were prepared to do unskilled jobs in the UK because the wages were so much better,.
The UK owes it to Europe to leave, so we can have higher wages and employ more of our own people, and more of the talented and energetic people of eastern Europe can stay in their own countries to get them richer faster.