With concerns about immigration forming a key part of the vote to leave the EU, Nick Robinson explores what immigration the public wants.
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Tonight on Panorama...
The battle that's coming over immigration...
..the voters still crying out for change...
We've got enough, ducky. We've got enough.
..the businesses who say they need immigrants...
You must have friends who say, "For goodness' sake,
"why don't you employ British people to do these jobs?"
Where are they?
Of course business wants to carry on what it's been doing,
because it's easy, but the responsibility of government
is to look after the consumer and the citizen.
Calls to control immigration drove the vote to leave the EU -
but what now?
They keep promising to come forward with their ideas
and they keep putting it off.
Who will do the jobs done now by people from the EU?
There's a danger that if we can't recruit people,
and we've already seen it in America,
that people will be replaced by robots.
That is the way the industry will go if we cannot employ people.
There's only a year to go till Brexit,
and yet we still don't have answer to a very big question -
who should we let in?
Welcome to one of the top Brexit-backing areas
in the country -
Mansfield in Nottinghamshire.
70% here voted to leave
and it doesn't take you very long
to find a clue as to why that was.
Do you want to see immigration the same,
so you want to see it cut, do you want to see it go up?
-You think it should be cut?
-Yeah. It should be capped.
Do you think we need to cut immigration in this country?
Do you think immigration needs to be cut?
-I do. Honestly, yeah.
So far, so simple, then.
What's a little bit more tricky
is deciding who exactly should be let into the country
and who should be kept out.
Ask you a question?
Do you think immigration in this country needs to be cut?
-Yes, I do.
-Who should come in, then? Who should we let in?
-Erm, professional people.
-What, people with skills?
People with skills, yeah.
Should we let any unskilled people come in?
Well, I should think... I think they should be monitored.
Let me just ask you about a few different groups.
-This is my Happy Families game.
Do you think we should have, erm,
foreign bricklayers coming into the country?
-You would let foreign bricklayers?
-OK. What about fruit pickers?
-Controlled, I think.
-But would they come in?
-Well, controlled, yeah.
-So some would come in?
Some foreign fruit pi...
What about care workers, looking after the elderly?
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
So we'd have some of them from abroad. Lorry drivers?
-You haven't said no to anybody yet!
What about chefs?
Depends, if they... if they've got no chefs, yes.
Some chefs, OK. Who don't you want to come in?
Uh, well, you know, just say it's got to be controlled.
But you haven't identified a single job
that you don't want foreigners to do.
It's not the jobs, it's the people who want to come over
-and sit on their backside and do...
-And do nothing.
-..and do nothing.
But in this area, do you think a lot of the immigrants are scroungers?
-Most of them are hard workers.
If they're prepared to work...
-See, what's interesting to me is you want to see immigration cut...
..every single job I showed you,
you said we need them coming from abroad.
So who is it we stop coming, then?
Well...I don't know.
You've stumped me.
I'm stumped for words.
It's not just voters who are stumped.
For all the talk about Brexit,
ministers have said almost nothing about immigration -
and now they say they need advice from a committee of experts.
First we were told an immigration policy would come last Christmas,
then we were told it would come this spring, now it's the autumn...
Why the dithering?
I think there isn't any dithering.
What I'm committed to doing is making evidence-based policy.
We will bring an immigration policy forward
when we're ready and when we're convinced that we're doing it
with the right evidence in the right way.
The Government are caught in a trap.
They promised to cut immigration, yet the numbers coming here
are still many more than those leaving.
Last year, net migration was more than 244,000.
That's more than double the population of Mansfield -
and yet businesses are complaining they're struggling
to get the EU workers they need, and that spells trouble.
The number of workers coming here from Europe is now falling,
and some, like Radu - a Romanian trucker who's been here
for five years - are now planning to leave.
There are 40,000 lorry drivers from the EU on Britain's roads -
that's one in eight of them.
I decide to leave the UK because the future is unsure here,
and I have other opportunities in other countries
like Germany, like France.
I can go and work there and I know what's going to happen
in the future because they will stay in the EU...
..and I will have rights to work there, to live there,
to bring my family together to stay together with me.
The industry's worried that the Romanians and Poles
they've relied on are beginning to find work elsewhere,
leaving them exposed.
We estimate, though it's a pretty accurate estimate,
that we're about 50,000 drivers short in the UK
from where we'd like to be and where we are at the moment.
-..driving trucks and lorries?
-And you haven't got the people for them?
We haven't got the people for them.
We're talking about global pulls on people.
Extraordinary that we're seeing this
now that Polish people are wanted back in Poland more than ever.
They're also wanted in Germany, more than ever.
So, there is a global labour market which is more mobile
than it ever was, and will they move?
Yes, they will.
Leigh, you must have friends who say, "For goodness' sake,
"why don't you employ British people to do these jobs
"instead of Poles and Romanians?"
And I give them this answer. Where are they?
And if he can't get the drivers he needs,
that won't just affect his business, it'll affect yours.
Leigh told me that free next-day deliveries
could soon become a thing of the past.
Hotels, pubs and restaurants
get even more of their workers from the EU.
-Are you having in or taking away, madam?
-Take away, please.
Anything else for you?
In this chain of salad bars, it's 80%.
Two years ago on Gumtree, you'd put an advert on, within an hour,
you'd have 300 applicants, of which you could discount 200.
-And now, maybe five to ten applications.
-That's dramatic, isn't it?
-Yes, it's fallen off a cliff.
So people are thinking, "Well, do I want to come to Britain
"where, if I came two years ago,
"my take home pay has suddenly dropped by 20%
"because of the fall in the pound, or do I want to go to Germany
"where I will be guaranteed to stay there for a much longer time,
"where their economy is strong?"
For years, Britain was seen as the best place in Europe
for young people to find a job.
That may be starting to change.
Nice to see you. Hi, Isabella. Hi, chaps. How's it going?
Hi, Martin. Nice to see you.
Tim Martin is the founder of Wetherspoons pubs,
and he campaigned for Britain to leave the EU.
-Where are you from, Isabella?
I expect you moved here cos it's a better climate!
I think some people have got used to easy access to employees
and it hasn't always been like that, so...
Do you think it's maybe a kick up the butt for some bosses
who found it pretty easy just to get the young East Europeans,
without having to make much of an effort to recruit people back home?
I don't like to say it's a kick up the butt,
because it's damn difficult running a small business
if there's a change, a sea change in the economy -
but if you're going to trade in the long-run,
you've got to find a way of dealing with these issues,
and it's not easy.
Food manufacturing is big business.
30% of its workers are from the EU.
Back in 2004, it was just 2%.
Patrick Hook runs a hatchery turning eggs into chicks.
The business hatches 9 million chicks a week,
but struggles to find the workers it needs.
Now, I don't want to spoil your chicken dinner
but this is where it might have begun.
Wow, look at that. Hello.
Here, at the moment, we have about five or six vacancies,
but as a business we have about 50-60 vacancies
across the UK that we cannot fulfil.
Isn't the truth that you're just going to
have to put your wages up a bit?
You may have to have more apprenticeship schemes,
but you would, in the end, get the workers.
We pay above the National Minimum and National Living Wage
and we still can't get the people.
Even if we have to put wages up,
which I think we'll have to, it's the reality,
I still don't think that will attract domestic UK labour.
How serious, then, is it as a crisis for your business?
The labour crisis and not having those skilled permanent people
available to us from the European Union is a bigger threat to us
as a business and our industry
and it's bigger than avian influenza, that is a fact.
Avian flu is less of a threat to this industry
than getting the immigration rules wrong?
Those rules, remember, haven't changed yet -
and business don't want them to.
Theresa May must decide whether to back down,
or tell them that, after Brexit,
they'll need to find workers here.
There are eight million people in this country
who are classified as economically inactive,
two million of whom would like to be economically active.
There is a pretty big pool of people who they could train.
Of course, business wants to carry on what it's being doing,
because it's easy, but the responsibility
of government is to look after the consumer and the citizen.
The Prime Minster's big Brexit speech last Friday
promised, once again, to control immigration.
We are clear that, as we leave the EU,
free movement of people will come to an end
and we will control the number of people
who come to live in our country.
That's what Mansfield voted for, not just in the referendum
but at the general election, too.
Once a mining town, always Labour, it voted for a Tory MP
for the first time in its history last June.
Particularly with immigration, I think,
people want to see control, is the key word.
That "taking back control" message was a really powerful thing here,
in an area that, economically,
has kind of been forgotten for a long time,
through decades since the pit closures
and all the community and the economy that was built around that.
People feel a bit forgotten by politics up there.
The number of people living in this town
who were born abroad isn't particularly high -
but Mansfield's been changing fast.
The number's tripled in just 10 years.
I'll walk down every morning to this coffee bar - not being racist -
I can probably meet, or pass, 15 people...
..and sometimes you don't hear an English voice,
and then you think, what on earth's wrong with Mansfield?
And there's too many people from other countries living here
and living off us.
Yes, I believe in immigration, definitely.
We've always wanted people in from other countries to do
the skilled work, the labourers, because we've never had enough
since the '40s, we haven't.
So I've no problem with that, no problem.
I'd just like to have a bit more screening when they come in.
I think Mansfield probably, historically,
isn't used to a lot of immigration, you know, on that side.
So to have quite a heavy influx of people suddenly coming
quite quickly, within two or three years, people notice that
and certain people obviously feel uncomfortable about it.
It was a beautiful town in the '60s, '70s,
and now there's nothing left.
So did you vote for a Tory MP to cut immigration?
I did, and to come out, to Brexit. I voted for that, as well. Yeah.
Talking about cutting immigration
and actually delivering it are very different.
It involves hard choices
and stopping business hiring who they want.
For eight years, the Tories have had a target
to bring net migration down to under 100,000.
It is still well over double that.
The last two sets of statistics that we've seen
have seen the direction of travel downwards,
which is what we're aiming towards.
But none of us have ever said
that this going to be either easy, or quick.
You do control the rules for people outside Europe...
..and even if nobody came from Europe you'd be missing your target.
So either the target is nonsense, or the rules are no good. Which is it?
We have certainly borne down on immigration
and we're determined to keep our commitment to the British public
and make sure that we return immigration to sustainable levels.
The target is completely bogus.
It's never been reached, it never can be reached.
It's just a way of the Tories talking an anti-immigrant narrative.
Is it possible, though, under Labour's immigration policy
that immigration might go up?
We can't say what is going to happen to levels of migration
because migration flows are subject to
all sorts of international pressures.
But immigration could go up then?
With increased emphasis on training and skills,
the need for people's specific skills from overseas
may well decline.
Scotland needs more immigration says her First Minister -
not a target to have less.
It's damaging and counter productive.
It runs against the needs of the UK economy but even more so,
given our different demographics,
it runs counter to the needs of the Scottish economy.
Our pensioner population over the next 25 years
is projected to increase by 25%.
The proportion over 75 years old is projected to increase
by almost 80% and, yet, our working age population,
those who are in employment and contributing the taxes
to support everything else that we hold dear
is only going to increase by 1%,
so that tells a story
that we need to be able to attract talent from elsewhere.
I think, apart from the Prime Minister,
it's quite hard to find anyone who thinks that the target,
as it currently operates,
is a useful contribution to policy at all.
-Or can be met?
-Or can be met.
It's easy for ministers to promise voters what they want to hear,
but business leaders are pleading with them
to drop their immigration target and to simplify the rules.
They're meant to ensure that the best and the brightest
can come here from the rest of the world, outside Europe,
people with skills, people earning around £30,000 a year -
but bosses often complain that's not how they work in practice,
and they're struggling to get the workers that they really need.
You might expect those rules to work for the company
that makes James Bond's favourite car.
Not many people know what DB stands for,
but obviously it's David Brown,
who owned the company for quite a long time.
This is the production line for the DB11
Aston Martin's latest luxury model.
The company's expanding fast it's about to open another factory -
and it's a British export success story...
..but they've got 400 vacancies they can't fill here,
mainly in highly skilled engineering jobs.
To people who say, let's have, after Brexit,
the same immigration system
that we have for people from outside Europe, what do you say?
That would be a bit of a nightmare, to be frank.
We needed someone to take care of electronic quality.
The best person I know in the business is a Japanese guy -
and it took me 13 months to bring him
through the hurdles of getting him here and getting him a work permit.
So more than a year after you identified
-a specific individual before they could come and work here.
For people who might be watching and saying, "So what?"
We don't want immigrants to come here
and do jobs that can be done for Britons.
What does it mean for them?
What you end up doing is you end up losing jobs
and that means you end up losing British jobs
because, as you become less and less competitive,
eventually that, in the relatively short term, that means that
people on the production lines are getting laid off.
Big business is certainly making a big noise
about the need to get the workers they want
from wherever they can find them.
Their argument is that it'll make us all richer...
..but ministers have promises to try to keep,
and they cap the number of skilled workers who can come here...
..and that can have unexpected consequences
not least in the NHS.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
is one of the biggest hospitals in the country.
One in 10 doctors here and in the NHS as a whole are from the EU.
After the referendum, there were a fears they'd head home.
-It looks like we arrived right in the nick of time, actually.
Yeah, I've increased the infusion rate again,
-and she was bed 18, wasn't it?
-Bed 18, yeah...
Andrea Carneiro is a consultant anaesthetist from Portugal.
-Five an hour is just not enough.
-He's staying. For now.
-I expected better from Britain, if I'm honest.
I believe passionately in the NHS.
I like the fact that I can do a good job here
because the system allows me to, and in return I work hard.
If you spoke to friends or family in Portugal, would you say,
"Yes come and join me in the NHS," or would you say,
"Well, I wouldn't if I were you"?
I would say, erm, clinically and from a professional perspective
it's great working here but don't do it just yet.
Because, big uncertainty.
There's no point in jumping in to something
that's still up in the air.
That's what the stats do show.
Many like Andrea ARE staying but the proportion of NHS staff
coming from the EU is now falling.
This at a time when the health service
has 100,000 vacancies, and under current immigration rules,
is often stopped from filling them from the rest of the world.
A national cap on the number of skilled workers
who can come here means this hospital has been blocked
from bringing in doctors it badly wants.
We've got vacancies for doctors at the moment.
We found people abroad who meet the criteria that we want to employ
but they've come up against the ceiling,
so were not allowed to bring them in -
and we can't bring anyone in now to this hospital until April.
So, quite simply, doctors you wanted,
doctors who wanted to come here, but they weren't allowed to come?
Couldn't come. When I haven't got the staff to look after patients,
we find staff who want to come here,
who've got the skills and the requirements
and then they're turned down because of a cap,
then it's more than irritating.
That's a disgraceful situation.
People depend on the NHS, and because of politics, really,
and pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment,
the government is putting the NHS at risk.
Some NHS doctors and all nurses aren't subject to a cap.
They're treated as what's called a shortage occupation.
We know that no shortage occupation is turned away.
Ministers again and again say we want the best
and the brightest to come.
In the NHS, the best and the brightest can't come,
because the system says the number of visas are capped,
they're not able to get here.
Our visa system is very rigorous and making sure that within the cap,
we have the most skilled -
and I'm conscious, as the Minister,
you have to get the right balance,
but we are determined to listen to all sectors of the economy
and work within the system we already have.
Under current immigration rules,
there are all sorts of jobs which employers
want to fill that they can't fill with people from outside the EU.
People who are not deemed to be the best or the brightest,
people like the poor old lorry drivers, or the care workers,
or the bricklayers, or the chefs
and the people who serve us in restaurants.
So, after Brexit, who will do those jobs?
Hi! Chicken wrap? would you like to eat here or take it away?
Leon serves upmarket fast food.
Half its 1,000 staff are from the EU.
From what I've experienced so far,
it's a very nice country to be in, especially London.
I'm not sure about around London but London is just very vibrant
and young and multicultural, so there's a lot to do here,
and I definitely want to stay after that, I think.
The boss says that his business couldn't thrive
if only immigrants with high skills are let in to Britain.
It's very easy to say, "Let's just take the scientists,
"let's just take the people with PhDs,
"because surely they can add value to us."
The reality is, the people who really add value
as well are the 18 to 25-year-olds that have the youth,
the energy, the drive, the vigour, the creativity, the verve,
who come to places like Leon.
We need those people, as well, and they are, we need a constant supply.
What, John, is the alternative,
if you can't get the staff that you need in these restaurants?
There's a danger that if we can't recruit people,
and we've already seen it in America, that people will be
replaced by robots, and that's not something we want to see.
It's not good for the culture, it's not good for the customer -
but that is the way the industry will go if we cannot employ people.
If you go online and actually look at the technology,
I think there's a film about robots even making spaghetti bolognese.
The robots are coming -
but let's make sure we don't accelerate ourselves
to a world where robots are the future.
I don't think we should be frightened of mechanisation,
and I don't know what type of sandwich you like,
but you will get exactly the sandwich you want
without any variation if it's made by machines.
But wouldn't some people who voted to leave along with you
say, "I did it because I wanted jobs for my children
"and jobs for my grandchildren"?
Those jobs will go to robots whether we have immigration or not.
That immigration is not the issue around technological development -
technological development, artificial intelligence,
mechanisation is all happening, and that will carry on.
Investing in more robots, more intelligent machines,
may be one answer if businesses find it harder
to hire cheap workers from abroad.
Training more Brits, paying them more, could be another.
Both, though, take time and money.
What we do about immigration after Brexit
raises huge questions which aren't being answered now.
Some are keen to kick-start that debate.
I know how difficult it is, often,
for politicians to make a pro-migration argument,
because there are concerns out there that require to be addressed
but it is so important that politicians do have the courage
to make that argument,
because failure to do so will mean that the next generation
is living with the consequences for a long time to come.
There are trade-offs. There are genuine economic consequences,
as well as social implications,
and I think now that people are beginning to realise
that maybe we will finally begin to have that debate.
Do you think there's a chance for the country to have a debate
-it hasn't before?
-I think there's more than a chance. It'll happen.
It's happening now, in a way - and that's a great thing.
Debate always produces better answers
than someone in an ivory tower.
Do you think it's time the public were let in on the debate
about our future immigration policy?
I think the public HAVE been let in on the debate.
They expressed a clear view to us in the referendum of 2016,
the general election of 2017 -
but I would actually encourage them to keep learning more.
The thing that's really struck me is that immigration
is an incredibly complicated subject
and too few people know enough about it.
The question is simple. The answer, less so. Who should we let in?
-You're a yes to all of these, are you?
What about chefs, restaurants?
No. We've got enough.
Why does the job they do
make them any better or worse as a person to like?
We've got enough in this country unemployed
without taking on more from abroad.
But often it's actually the people who come from abroad
who do the jobs that we don't want to do.
Well, that's down to this government, isn't it?
To make 'em do it. Make 'em train.
What's wrong with bringing in people from, say, Europe, to do those jobs?
We've got enough, ducky. We've got enough.
Public concerns about immigration were at the heart of the vote to leave the EU. Since then, the government has been silent on their plans. But with just a year to go until the country leaves, there are big unanswered questions about how any new system will work after Brexit - and the issue still stirs up powerful emotions.
Nick Robinson travels from the heartlands of the leave vote to the front line of the NHS to find out what immigration the public wants and what Britain's businesses and public services say they need, and to ask the big question: who should we let in?