Quit EU to curb migration says top Yorkshire Tory as he pours scorn on think tank report

LEAVING THE EU is the only way to curb migration, a senior Tory has said, pouring scorn on a report suggesting Britain's exit may lead to the bargaining away of freedom of movement for continued trade.

David Davis MP.

Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis MP said there was no reason to suggest EU migration could not be severely reduced by Britain voting to leave at the June referendum.

Report Free Movement and the EU Referendum released today by think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that “Brexit” would have little effect if the UK’s new deal with the rest of the EU meant accepting free movement, as Norway did.

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Even if restrictions were imposed, they would be unlikely to reduce net migration to the Government’s “tens of thousands” target, IPPR’s analysis shows.

However Mr Davis, who is campaigning to leave the EU, said: “It is simply nonsense to suggest that if Britain leaves the EU we would not have greater control over immigration.

“The IPPR report is wrong to suggest that we would have to have free movement in its current form in order to secure a trade deal. We are far more influential than Norway and we would not have to accept freedom of movement as part of a new deal with the EU.”

IPPR carried out the study over several months and found that ‘if the UK continues to participate in EU free movement as part of a new trade deal with the EU, then Brexit is unlikely to have an impact on EU migration to the UK’.Marley Morris, IPPR Research Fellow, said one way migration might realistically come down was if Britain starts treating EU migrants the same as non EU citizens by introducing visas but even then, he said this might still not meet Government targets.

He said: “According to experts that can lead to a reduction in lower skilled EU migrants because you would make sure that they had to apply for visas. If they didn’t meet the condition of the visa they wouldn’t be able to come.”

But he added that ‘this alone will probably not be sufficient to meet the current government’s net migration target’.

Mr Davis, the Haltemprice and Howden MP, who campaigned against Britain joining the Schengen Area open borders agreement in Europe, said: “The lack of control over immigration policy is central to the referendum debate, so it is highly unlikely that in the event of Brexit the Government could accept current freedom of movement rules in any negotiations. The public simply would not accept it.

“Nor would they have to, as the world’s fifth largest economy and one of the EU’s largest trading partners, the UK would be in a very strong position to negotiate a deal that ensured trade continues uninterrupted while allowing us to choose who enters the UK.”

The report presents a mixed picture of how freedom of movement currently affects people’s reliance on UK state support. EU migrants are more likely to be in work than UK nationals but they are more likely to claim tax credits and child benefits.

The study found 83 per cent of migrants from the newest EU members – including eastern Europe – were in work, as were 75 per cent from the other 14 EU countries, compared with 74 per cent for UK nationals and 62 per cent for non-EU migrants.

But the analysis also showed central and eastern European migrants tended to be in low-skilled, poorly-paid jobs, usually earning £3 an hour less than UK nationals.

Mr Morris said: “Many eastern Europeans, despite their qualifications, are working in low-skilled sectors at low pay rates, which may be helping to plug some labour shortages but might also be sustaining low wages and poor conditions in some workplaces.”

The research suggested many of those coming to the UK were overqualified, with 59 per cent of EU migrants holding university or college qualifications compared to 34 per cent of British