British Appreciate Benefits Of Immigration More Than Other European Countries

British Appreciate Benefits Of Immigration More Than Other European Countries

Britons appreciate the benefits of immigration more than their European counterparts, a survey has shown, despite the assumption that the UK was most hostile towards immigrants in light of Brexit. 

The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism survey found that nearly half of all British people believe that immigrants have either a positive or neutral impact on the country.

Across other European countries, the numbers were lower. In Germany, 24 percent believed the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. This dropped further to 21 percent in France and 19 percent in Denmark.

The Cost And Benefits Of Immigration

Image Credit: Christoph Scholz/Flickr

Nearly a third, 28 percent, of Britons believed that the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. 20 percent believed the costs and benefits were about equal, and 16 percent were not sure.

37 percent of Britons felt that the costs of immigration outweighed the benefits. This was the second lowest amount in any big European country after Poland. Elsewhere, 50 percent of Italians believed immigration to be negative, as well as 49 percent of Swedes and 42 percent of French and 40 percent of Germans.

The salience of immigration has dropped significantly and there’s also been a warming up of attitudes.

Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future

These figures change significantly when taking into account the reason for immigration. If a migrant has a job offer prior to moving, support goes up, with 80 percent of Britons believing qualified professionals would have a positive impact on the country compared to 56 percent of French respondents. Additionally, 41 percent of Britons considered that unskilled labourers arriving in the UK with a job offer were good for the country – the highest percentage of all major EU nations except Spain.

However, UK respondents were the least likely of any surveyed European country to believe that refugees fleeing war were “good” for the country. They also had the lowest level of support for migrants coming to join family members.

A Hardline Attitude To Immigration

Welcome asylum seekers signImage Credit: Takver/Flickr 

Even before Brexit, the UK had historically taken a hardline attitude when it came to immigration and migration.

In 2012, the Home Office introduced the hostile environment policy – a set of legislative changes and policies that made it increasingly difficult for migrants living in the UK without leave to remain to continue on in the country.

The Home Office hoped the strict policies, which included blocking landlords from renting to migrants, passport checks for students in schools and discriminatory healthcare policies, would make migrants voluntarily leave.

During the 2015 migration crisis, Britain was seen as one of the least compassionate countries in its response.

Some people are more empathetic because they see that the 3 million Europeans in the UK aren’t just a statistic.

Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future

Sunder Katwala, the director of the identity and integration thinktank British Future, told the Guardian that attitudes towards immigration in the UK were likely becoming softer because of the Brexit promise of harder borders, as well as recent scandals like Windrush. 

“The salience of immigration has dropped significantly and there’s also been a warming up of attitudes,” he said. 

“It’s now a debate about what we should do now. Some people accept changes are coming. Some people are more empathetic because they see stories like Windrush, they see that the 3 million Europeans in the UK aren’t just a statistic but the people we see on television worried about whether they’re allowed to stay.”

Main image credit: Tai/Flickr

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Meka Beresford

Freelance News Editor
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British Appreciate Benefits Of Immigration More Than Other European Countries
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