Now the results are in and we know that the Conservatives have won a majority, what does this mean for migrants and indeed immigration lawyers?
In the Conservative manifesto, David Cameron said: “We will:
- keep our ambition of delivering annual net migration in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands
- control migration from the European Union, by reforming welfare rules
- clamp down on illegal immigration and abuse of the Minimum Wage
- enhance our border security and strengthen the enforcement of immigration rules
- develop a fund to ease pressure on local areas and public services”
Essentially this is what they promised in 2010. Some may say that their failure to deliver on their previous promises has had the effect of increasing UKIP’s share of the vote in this election.
Obviously the major pledge for this government was that should they be elected they would promise a referendum on the UK’s membership of Europe. Should the British public vote ‘No’ in this referendum we will cease to be members of the EU. This would certainly affect businesses of all sizes as well as many individuals. It is unclear at this stage whether there would be a total removal or simply a renegotiation of the terms of our membership.
As it stands the UK government cannot restrict migration from Europe. As such they have tacked this by restricted migrants from outside Europe to attempt to deliver on their tens of thousands promise. Individuals have felt it since 2012 following the tightening of the rules as have students. Recently businesses and indeed entrepreneurs and investors have found it increasing difficult to achieve their aims. We anticipate that this will only tighten further in the coming months.
The governemnt will surely now impose tougher conditions on EU migrants claiming benefits in the hope that the UK will become a less attractive place for them. This exercise will only work for the small minority of European migrants who do actually come here to claim benefits. The other simply wish to come to do the jobs that some UK nationals are not prepared to do.
How their promises will work in reality are unclear. What we do know is that as lawyers we must be ready for more sweeping changes within our area of law.
Rachel Harvey is an immigration solicitor at Cartwright King