New proposal suggests ID cards to control immigration
A new report from a think tank has suggested the introduction of ID cards in the UK as a method of controlling immigration.
Global Future, a think tank which promotes the values of openness in the global market, said that tightening current rules and introducing electronic identity cards could resolve many concerns over immigration – potentially without the need to leave the EU. Many EU politicians have expressed surprise that the UK has so far not made use of its current powers to manage migration, and pointed out that many countries within the EU have been able to do so.
Backed by Labour peer Andrew Adonis, the report pointed out that Britain is the only country in the EU which doesn’t have a national ID system, and would demonstrate that Remain supporters were responding to the issues that motivated so many to vote for Brexit. Rather than the “mistake” of ending freedom of movement, the report suggested that Britons are not opposed to immigration in principle, but want tougher controls to prevent crime and perceived ‘freeloaders’.
The ID cards could control people’s right to work, access benefits, and use public services such as the NHS. It would also be combined with a stronger approach to integration that would force English language learning on immigrants. However the report also emphasised the need for investment in communities and enforcing workers rights.
Lord Adonis said: “The choice between EU membership and controlling migration is a false one. Electronic ID cards would mean we know exactly who is here and give us real control over access to our public services and entitlements… These policies are practical, actionable solutions to immigration that are already being deployed across Europe. I believe strongly that they will help to persuade voters that the best way to take back control is to stay in the EU and get serious about immigration and welfare enforcement – so let’s do that instead of trashing our economy on the basis of a false choice.”
However it is likely that these proposals will be opposed by civil rights campaigners, who prevented a similar scheme being launched under the Blair government. Concerns over privacy and surveillance have also been key reasons they have been unpopular with the general public – whether this will have changed now that freedom of movement has been threatened remains to be seen.