British Prime Minister David Cameron announced at the beginning of 2013 that, should the Conservative Party achieve victory in the next general election, he would ensure that a referendum on whether the UK should remain in the European Union
or not, would occur in 2017. It was in May of that same year that UKIP
made its first significant electoral breakthrough; finishing third overall in terms of vote share, humiliating the Liberal Democrats in the process by pushing them into a paltry fourth place.
UKIP further went on to cement its place in British politics by winning the popular vote and obtaining the largest number of seats available, which prompted many commentators to suggest that the older and more established parties had underestimated UKIP's appeal to the common voter. The notion that Labour and the Conservatives were out of touch with ordinary people's concerns and fears over increased immigration soon took root and this further spurred a groundswell of support towards Farage's anti-EU party.
What Farage and many of his passionate supporters do not seem to comprehend, however, is the fact that most of the problems with the British immigration system concerns the issue of non-EU migrants. Under the successive Labour administrations which governed Britain from 1997 to 2010, 3.8 million migrants arrived in the country, and of these a sizeable 70 per cent originated from outside the borders of the EU. Furthermore, EU migrants contribute far more to the UK's economy via taxation and are much less likely to rely on state benefits than their non-EU counterparts. European immigrants also integrate themselves into #Society
more easily than arrivals from the Middle East
, as there is far less of a culture clash.
In fact, a 2014 study by University College London
revealed that immigrants from the ten countries which joined the EU in 2004 have contributed close to £5 billion more to the UK’s economy than they took in services and benefits. In contrast, between 1995 and 2011, non-EU migrants made a negative contribution of £118 billion over 17 years, using more services and receiving more benefits than they paid in taxes.
In spite of all this, Farage insists that immigration from within the EU poses a real threat to the future of Britain. One could easily take the view that Farage is simply using EU migrants as scapegoats for a much broader issue and that UKIP as a whole is letting its single-mindedness in attempting to secure a British exit from the union blind them to the bigger picture. The complexity of the vast amount of immigrants arriving on European shores from impoverished and unstable countries, as exemplified by the ongoing tragedy of the ramshackle boats attempting to sail to Italy from Libya
, will require more than UKIP's populist rhetoric to resolve adequately. #Government