You’re a racist, no you’re a racist.

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Until now I’ve largely stayed away from the immigration topic because as my headline hints it’s a scary debate with lots of nasty accusations flying around. But since it seems unavoidable… by the way, take this with a pinch of salt I’m partly just demonstrating how easy it is to imply someone is racist.

Which of these positions is most xenophobic, and most simplistic?

  1. We will try to limit immigration from the EU countries to a specific number of people per year.
  2. “We want to welcome people because of the skills they have not because of the passport they have.”

Position 1. is the de facto Remain campaign position. David Cameron has been promising to limit immigration by numbers. Wanting to limit immigration per se seems to imply that they think immigration is a problem in general which flirts with xenophobia. Now I don’t believe that is what they really think but that is the only option available to them because of the free movement rule and the only ammo they have is to stretch the EU’s good will by fiddling around with benefit rules for immigrants. Why they are not arguing the EU’s case for completely free movement more strongly I don’t know; if they really believed in it they would not be promising to curtail immigration and not trying to dissuade immigrants. Their position is opaque.

Position 2. is the Brexit campaign slogan. If there is a skill we are short of then we what as many as we can get with that skill. There is no fixed numerical limit. If we need nurses, doctors, engineers and experienced fruit pickers then let’s get ‘em in. If we don’t need more bottle washers, lawyers, plastic surgeons or treacle grinders then they would have to retrain if they really want to come and work here. I have to say this position seems quite clear and pragmatic to me. If it did turn out to be a bad idea that wouldn’t be because it’s racist or even xenophobic.

I don’t know why anyone would be scared of xylophones any way.

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