The contradictions at the heart of post-Brexit immigration policy

A new blog by Professor Louise Ryan and Dr Jon Mulholland delivers a searing critique of post-Brexit immigration policy in the UK.

Date: 3 November 2022

In a new blog for Everyday Society, London Met’s Professor Louise Ryan and the University of the West of England’s Dr Jon Mulholland argue that current Tory party attitudes towards immigration reveal fundamental contradictions at the heart of Conservative ideology - where “neo-liberal aspirations for free market economics and neo-nationalist dreams of controlling borders make for unhappy bedfellows.

They take a sociological analysis to the question of immigration in a post-Brexit UK, arguing that “the core political principles justifying calls for reduced migration, and ‘taking back control of borders’, are fundamentally at odds with the neo-liberal logic associated with the free movement of capital, goods and labour.

This builds on what the Financial Times has called a 'conspiracy of silence' relating to Brexit, wherein Tory policy on immigration has been shown to be rife with internal tensions and contradictions.

The blog continues, “Neo-liberal economics promotes the removal of restraints, in the service of fostering a free market. These principles have found renewed voice in so-called Trussonomics, embodying the agenda of the highly influential Institute for Economic Affairs.

“Those promoting this agenda are at odds with others inside the Tory party, such as Home Secretary Braverman, who are proposing to further tighten restrictions on migration.

“Reducing migration may have been a vote winner in 2019 but the consequences of this policy in terms of, for example, the severe shortage of nurses and carers, are clearly visible and likely to impact most on the poorest and most disadvantaged in society who rely disproportionately upon health and social care services.”

Professor Ryan joined London Met in 2020, as a Senior Professor of Sociology and is also the director of the Global Diversities and Inequalities research centre. Dr Jon Mulholland is an Associate Professor in Sociology at UWE, with expertise in the role played by social diversity in the contemporary nation-state, and with a particular interest in the impact of migration in this respect

Everyday Society is the online publication of the British Sociological Association. The blog can be read in full online.