UK Migration Policy before and after Brexit

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The article discusses political course of the conservative governments of the UK regarding migration legislation reforms in the context of such challenges of globalization as the European migration crisis of 2015 and Brexit. The analysis of evolution of the conceptual foundations of British migration policy allows us to conclude that the conservatives, since they came to power in 2010, continue to follow the tradition of tightening the rules for entry and residence of foreign citizens, which emerged under the government of G. Macmillan in the 1960s. The key difference in the 21st century is the change in the vector of the restrictive measures used by the conservatives against uncontrolled migration from the EU and third world countries, with particular focus on strengthening administrative supervision of foreigners arriving in the UK for employment or reunification with relatives. The British approach to migration control remained stricter than in many EU countries and was especially tightened due to Brexit, because the government was afraid of a massive influx of low-skilled migrants who would overwhelm the labor market and leave British citizens jobless. At the same time, it was necessary to remove the high burden on the state budget and social services that could not cope with the increase in the level of net migration. There was a sharp transition from the ideology of multiculturalism to the practical application of the concept of “hostile environment” proposed by T. May, which forced immigrants to leave the country.

About the authors

Oleg V. Okhoshin

The Institute of Europe RAS

Author for correspondence.
11-3B Mokhovaya St, Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation

PhD in History, Senior Researcher of the Centre for British Studies


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Copyright (c) 2020 Okhoshin O.V.

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