Both sides in the EU debate are, sadly, relying on their own versions of "project fear." Remainers predict economic disaster if we leave, which is a gross exaggeration. Leaving will be economically damaging, but will not be a disaster - we shall survive. Brexiters play hard on a populist, and in my view unsubstantiated, fear of immigration.
In an earlier post I have described how my own life is both enriched and made much more comfortable by immigrants and their offspring.. Yesterday a researchers at the London School of Economics released a report on the effect of immigration on domestic wages. I have not read the report but have no reason to doubt Larry Elliott's summary of their conclusions, viz
- areas of Britain with the biggest rises in workers from the rest of Europe had not seen sharper falls in pay or a bigger reduction in job opportunities than other parts of the country;
- goods and services consumed by immigrants raise demand in the British economy and create opportunities for UK-born workers;
- the fall in real wages over the past decade is caused by the deep recession which began in 2008 rather than the numbers of immigrants from other European countries;
- for the most part [immigration] has likely made us better off;
- EU immigrant pay more in taxes than they use public services and therefore they help to reduce the budget deficit.
Of course it will be difficult to convince those against immigration of its economic benefits since people on all sides tend to believeonly the evidence that supports their prejudices (me included,) Nor will determined Brexiteers believe the plethora of economic predictions from most respected economic sources - the IMF, Governor of the Bank, the Treasury et al - that leaving the EU will be damaging to our standard of living and quality of life. This is partly human nature and and partly distrust of government figures. This distrust has probably always been the case but has, I believe, become much worse since the Thatcher era, when manipulation of official figures to suit the purposes of successive governments has become more common.
I regret that a mature democracy such as ours seems incapable of conducting a civilised
debate based on agreed facts