Theme: Political Economy | Content Type: Journal article

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‘Full-Fat, Semi-Skimmed or Skimmed?’ The Political Economy of Immigration Policy since Brexit

James Hampshire



| 1 min read

Since the European Union referendum in 2016, UK net migration has increased to record levels. Despite the Leave campaign's promise to ‘take back control’—and a Conservative government that has adopted increasingly negative rhetoric about immigration—growing numbers of workers and international students have migrated to the UK. This apparent puzzle can be explained by examining the political economy of immigration policy. The UK economy is structurally dependent on migrants who take up jobs that British citizens shun and who address skills shortages caused by under-investment in training and education, as well as international students who help finance UK universities. As free movement came to an end, the Johnson government responded by liberalising immigration policy selectively. More recently, political pressure from the right has prompted the Sunak government to adopt policies that restrict the rights of migrant workers, international students and many British citizens to live with their families.

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    James Hampshire

    James Hampshire is a Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex, and the Deputy Editor of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. He is currently researching how models of post-Fordist capitalism shape immigration policy.

    Articles by James Hampshire