Political party immigration: Where do they stand?


Political party immigration

Immigration is a heated topic. Both the Conservative and the Labour parties have been criticised for hiding from immigration, while Ukip has built its image largely on immigration based rhetoric.

Conservatives having failed to cut migration to their target as promised have faced criticism, with net migration figures higher than when the party took office. As 7 May approaches, immigration looks to be one of the most important issues for the General Election as each party tries to assert that they have the best policy.

The Conservatives have a continued goal to bring down net migration to below 100,000, though this is no longer a promise as it was at the last election. The party are also advocating welfare restrictions, with immigrants needing to wait four years before claiming certain benefits such as tax credits or accessing social housing. The party has also promised an in-out referendum on the EU by 2017, and to put reform of free movement rules at the centre of renegotiations.

The Labour party are asserting they will ensure stronger border controls with proper entry and exit checks. The party plan to reduce low skilled migration but not at cost of university students and high-skilled workers. The party will see employment agencies who only recruit abroad outlawed and increase fines for employing illegal immigrants. The party also intend to prevent benefit claims for first 2 years in the UK. The party have stated that an EU referendum is unlikely due to the economic repercussions of leaving the world’s largest single market.

The Liberal Democrats have declared themselves as the UK’s ‘only real internationalist party’. Nonetheless, the party is advocating tightening up on some areas of immigration. The party plans to reintroduce exit checks at borders, and some stricter benefits rules affecting Universal Credit and in-work benefits. The party will also require English language skills to be assessed for claiming benefits such as JSA and introduce compulsory language skills where English poor.

The SNP want a devolved government with control immigration in Scotland and the introduction of a Canadian-style earned citizienship system to attract highly skilled immigrants. The party plan to use immigration to improve the skills of the workforce and strengthen the education sector.

Plaid Cymru oppose a points-based system and support the right of asylum seekers to work in Wales while awaiting status decisions. The party plans to lobby Westminster with a view to shut down ‘detention’ centres.

UKIP have dropped their target cap of 50,000. The party plans to introduce an Australian-style points system, and set up a Migration Control Commission tasked with bringing net migration down to ‘normality.’ The party plan to increase border staff and introduce a five year ban on unskilled workers. The party also propose to leave EU, and cut down on immigration from Europe. The party proposes tougher English language tests for permanent residence, and to opt out of Dublin treaty, allowing the UK to return asylum seekers to other EU countries without considering their claim.

The Green Party want to reduce immigration controls. The party maintains that the creation of a fairer world would make people less likely to migrate. Under the party, migrants illegally in UK for over 5 years allowed to remain, unless they pose a serious danger. The party would also ensure more legal rights for asylum seekers.

With the elections growing closer, the parties are beginning to take a clearer stance on immigration. What is needed is not a focus on targets, but on the creation and implementation of a long term policy which takes into consideration wider ramifications of immigration, including the economic and social impact. In place of short sighted plans with aims to reduce net migration to meet arbitrary caps we need an open discussion of immigration and a system which is fair and which benefits both society and the economy.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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