EU migration to UK falls to lowest level since 2009

Non-EU migration to Britain rose by the largest amount in 15 years.

Net migration from the European Union to the United Kingdom fell to its lowest point in nearly a decade, while migration from non-EU countries to the U.K. climbed, according to new figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that net migration from the bloc to the U.K. dropped to 57,000 people in the year to September 2018, continuing to add to the population but at the lowest level since 2009.

However, net migration of non-EU citizens to the U.K. was at its highest since 2004 and rose to 261,000 people, the ONS said.

Over the year, about 627,000 people moved to the U.K while about 345,000 people left the country.

The figures also showed a net fall in immigration from the eight Central and Eastern European countries that joined the bloc in 2004, more than 1 million of whose citizens had moved to Britain over the past decade.

Jonathan Portes of the UK in a Changing Europe research group said in a statement: “This undoubtedly reflects the impact of Brexit on the attractiveness of the UK to other Europeans.”

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The pro-EU establishment are sadly continuing to dismiss the ‘little people’

The Alliance of British Entrepreneurs (ABE) and Leave Means Leave (LML) have issued a joint statement supported by 300 plus business owners –  businesses large and small – asking for a managed no-deal exit from the EU. The reaction to this from Jim Pickard of the FT has reminded me why I chose, at great […]

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The Alliance of British Entrepreneurs (ABE) and Leave Means Leave (LML) have issued a joint statement supported by 300 plus business owners –  businesses large and small – asking for a managed no-deal exit from the EU. The reaction to this from Jim Pickard of the FT has reminded me why I chose, at great personal cost, to campaign to leave the EU – unbelievably a decision I took three years ago and still it goes on. Jim, a sharp and competent journalist, has chosen to belittle sole trader entrepreneurs, who actually make up a substantial proportion of the economy. This reaction is a classic one of our establishment. 

Looking back in fairness, I had always been a eurosceptic, albeit also a regular visitor for over thirty five years to the Brussels bureaucratic machine and actually with some very good friends within the matrix that is the EU. 

As Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and in 2014 anticipating the EU debate, I set about with the researchers and economists at the BCC to find out the facts about the UK economy, politics and the EU in all its aspects: trade, regulation, migration, sovereignty etc. Much of this I knew from forty years in international business, but I was shocked by some of the results in areas with which I was not familiar. For example, our look into migration and population trends pointed towards half of the UK population being migrants or the children of migrants by 2040, a very rapid transition which would no doubt change and challenge the nature, values and culture of British society forever. The lack of official insight was shocking, one might suspect even deliberate, but such as it was, it pointed to a substantial burden on taxpayers arising from migrant workers in low-skilled jobs.

In 2015, when David Cameron declared he would start negotiations with the EU, I wrote to him on behalf of the BCC an open letter, setting out our expectations from this process. When he returned, as I had anticipated, we at the BCC were able to issue a statement in January 2016 indicating that his efforts had fallen far short of our expectations. The scene was set.

My major concern personally (as for the majority of Brexit supporters I have met) was that of sovereignty, which I had seen eroded over the decades to the point where the UK Parliament was appearing to be the equivalent of a county council in relation to the EU. It is ironic that the Parliament that allowed this to happen without any real resistance from the majority of MPs has kicked up such a fuss about leaving – perhaps this is as good a sign as any of a renewed democratic vigour!

But what really turned me into a campaigner, however, was the overwhelming arrogance of our establishment. The start of 2016 witnessed the all-out assault of Project Fear and the bullying by No. 10 of organisations like mine. It demonstrated an absolute desire to treat the “little people” with contempt and that our “more intelligent” “betters” had no compunction in lying grievously, or at least no respect for the facts unless they supported their world vision and vested interests. That is what led me to resign from the BCC to fight the referendum as Chairman of the Vote Leave Business Council. 

The arrogance of the elite was brought home to me when giving a presentation in Brussels in January 2016 to an audience of senior EU officials. To my astonishment, the first question from the floor was to ask how we could possibly contemplate allowing people who are not college-educated to vote in a referendum, which was met by murmurs of approval from around the room. 

In my many lunches with Lord Heseltine in his role within the Business Department, mentoring Greg Clark and directing people, it became clear that he considered democracy to be merely a tool, a rubber stamp for the will of the ruling class, a way of obtaining “buy in” so as to effect a smooth delivery. This I witnessed again and again amongst what is the new establishment of the liberal, metropolitan elite, no longer the noblesse oblige of landed classes of yesteryear.

One of the first pieces I wrote for the press during the referendum campaign was for the Evening Standard. It compared the mutiny of the Brexiteers to the Medieval Peasants’ Revolt. I ended the piece by warning that the establishment are vicious in pursuit of their own vested interests and so it has proved to be.  

I came to mistrust our establishment so much that I continued to campaign even after we won the referendum with Leave means Leave – and a good job it is that we continued our vigilance, since there has been a determined effort by the establishment to reverse Brexit, to ignore democracy, simply because it doesn’t suit them.

The reaction of the FT to the statement by business supporters of the ABE and LML calling for no deal was just such a continuation of the dismissal of “the little people” who inconveniently just happen to be voters.

The statement fits very well with my experience of business, large swathes of which want to leave the EU. Many dare not stick their heads above the parapet, so viscous has been the Remainer backlash. Those that are willing and able tend to be business owners, entrepreneurs large and small. Not, you will note, the salary men who run the corporate multinationals, focused on their bonuses and the three-year cycle before they move on. 

Family-owned or -run businesses make up the vast majority of the UK economy from sole traders to large companies. They trade around the world and domestically. They are the backbone of the economy. They are the innovators and risk takers. They are the future. Watch out establishment, they don’t believe in you anymore.

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Equal rights in Northern Ireland threatened by Brexit

Legal equality between Irish and British residents in the region has largely relied on EU membership.

The U.K.’s membership in the EU was the glue that helped hold together the Good Friday peace agreement — Brexit threatens to unstick it.

With just weeks until Brexit day, a significant portion of Northern Ireland’s 1.9 million residents could find themselves losing rights that their neighbors continue to enjoy — for example to education, medical care and some types of housing.

The potential consequences of a no-deal departure, which have been largely overlooked thus far, are set to impact hundreds of thousands Irish citizens who are native to the region. In a series of House of Commons votes Tuesday night, MPs indicated they want to avoid no deal. But an attempt to prevent it happening on March 29 failed to win support, meaning the cliff edge is still very much in sight.

It is particularly alarming in Northern Ireland’s febrile and polarized political atmosphere, where all citizens, whether they identify as British or Irish, were promised that they would continue to be treated equally after Brexit.

The region has had no government for two years and a potential hard border with the Republic of Ireland threatens to provoke a return to violence between the region’s mostly Protestant unionists and largely Catholic nationalists. A car bomb earlier this month in Northern Ireland’s second city Derry (also known as Londonderry) highlighted that the potential for violence is not far from the surface.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson called the situation for rights in Northern Ireland “dire” | Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

“We have a situation that Irish citizens [would] have no legal connection to the jurisdiction or country in which we are born,” said Martina Anderson, a Sinn Féin MEP. “The last thing we need in Northern Ireland is a differentiation of rights.

“The situation is dire,” Anderson said, adding that her constituents regularly contact her worried about the situation post Brexit and that neither British nor Irish governments have done enough to reassure them.

Equal rights

Under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which largely put an end to decades of conflict over Northern Ireland’s constitutional status, people born in the region are entitled either to British or Irish passports (or both) and are guaranteed equal rights regardless of their nationality. About 20 percent of Northern Ireland’s population holds only an Irish passport, according to 2011 census data.

The U.K.’s membership in the EU had papered over many of the tricky details of the arrangement, but with Brexit due to happen on March 29 with or without a deal, those legal ambiguities are due to be exposed.

“We’re actually in quite a difficult situation,” said Daniel Holder, the deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, an independent human rights group. “No one’s really working on it.”

Researchers found that few of the provisions of the Common Travel Area are included in domestic law.

The list of issues to sort out is long: from immigration rules, to rights related to residency, access to education, social security and health care. To take one example, under Northern Irish health care legislation, only British citizens or European Economic Area citizens are currently entitled to certain types of home help or community care. But EEA citizens, including Northern Ireland-born Irish citizens, stand to lose this benefit after Brexit if there is no deal and hence no transition period.

Similar concerns exist over education, where it remains unclear whether Irish citizens will be able to pay the (less expensive) home rate for Northern Irish universities. Although few expect a sudden post-Brexit hike in fees, it would be legally difficult for universities to discriminate in favor of Irish citizens over, for example, Spanish or French students, according to Holder.

A research paper commissioned by the Joint Committee of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission came to similar conclusions about the need to clarify post-Brexit rights.

Politicians commonly invoke the earlier Common Travel Area between the U.K. and Ireland as guaranteeing a fallback for ensuring a range of rights for citizens of both jurisdictions. However, the human rights researchers found that few of the provisions of the CTA are included in domestic law.

“The CTA is written in sand, and its terms are much more limited than is often believed to be the case,” the report says.

“There is a need to identify clearly rights and entitlements that stem from EU law” — Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of Northern Ireland’s Human Rights Commission

Other rights, currently enjoyed by all residents of the island, are set to be disrupted. Take health care access along the 500-kilometer border. Due to overlapping EU rules in a number of areas, all-island health care currently exists for situations such as emergency health care provisions and access to highly specialized treatments such as radiotherapy. Cancer patients in the northern county of Donegal, in the Republic of Ireland, are entitled to receive radiotherapy in neighboring Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital, just over the border.

Fill the gaps

Holder said the British government has only very lately been thinking of all the implications of leaving the EU for Irish citizens in Northern Ireland, if at all, and that there is an urgent need to introduce legislation to fill the gaps.

Chief Commissioner of Northern Ireland’s Human Rights Commission Les Allamby largely agreed. “There is a need to identify clearly rights and entitlements that stem from EU law,” he told POLITICO.

“To provide legal certainty and clarity, we need a formal Common Travel Area treaty to cover immigration rules, travel rights, residency, and related rights to education, social security, work, health, security and justice,” he added.

There are indications that both the British and Irish governments are aware of the need to move quickly. Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said earlier this month that a new bilateral agreement between Dublin and London is “ready to go.” No similar announcement followed from the British government, however.

Ireland’s Deputy PM Simon Coveney | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

A spokesperson for the U.K.’s Department for Exiting the EU said the government is “working to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to protect all these rights.

“The people of Northern Ireland who are Irish — and thus EU citizens — will continue to have access to rights, opportunities and benefits that come with EU citizenship,” she added.

Boris Johnson denies raising Turkey in Brexit campaign

The former Foreign Secretary called for a Brexit to ‘bring this country together.’

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson came under fire for claiming at an event in Staffordshire Friday that he did not raise fears about Turkish immigration during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign.

Johnson who was a leading figure in the official Leave campaign, was giving a speech on Brexit at JCB’s headquarters in Staffordshire.

In a Q&A after the speech he was asked repeatedly about the way the Leave campaign raised the issue of Turkish accession to the EU and potential future immigration from that country. He said: “Actually, I didn’t say anything about Turkey in the referendum … Since I made no remarks, I can’t disown them.”

When a journalist persisted with the question Johnson said: “I didn’t make any remarks about Turkey, mate.”

Political opponents and campaigners for a second referendum on EU membership were quick to seize on the remarks. They pointed out that he and follow Brexiteer Michael Gove wrote to then Prime Minister David Cameron on the subject. They wrote: “Others assert that the UK has ‘a veto’ on Turkish accession. This claim is obviously artificial given the government’s commitment to Turkish accession at the earliest possible opportunity.

He was also quoted as saying, “I am very pro-Turkish but what I certainly can’t imagine is a situation in which 77 million of my fellow Turks and those of Turkish origin can come here without any checks at all. That is mad — that won’t work.”

In his speech, Johnson addressed the Brexit impasse in Westminster and called for an EU exit that will “bring this country together.” But when asked whether he would back Prime Minister Theresa May in a snap election if there was one, he declined to say.

Johnson claimed the best way to reconcile a divided Britain is to “address the issues” which led 52 percent of the electorate to vote Leave in the June 2016 referendum.

“We can stop going on miserably about the whole process of Brexit and start talking about what Brexit can do to for the people of this country and bring this country together,” the former foreign secretary said.

He said government should “devolve fiscal power to big cities and the regions” in order to address discrepancies in British attainment and productivity.

“I’m not going to pretend that there won’t be challenges and I’m not going to pretend that there won’t be changes that we have to deal with, of course there will be, but I say to everybody who believes in the democratic freedoms of this country, we are more than up to it.”

Labour MP Virendra Sharma dismissed Johnson’s claim he had not spoken about Turkey during the referendum campaign. “[Johnson is] now trying to act the great liberal by championing migration, after shamelessly pushing anti-Turkish messages as a leader of the Vote Leave campaign,” he said.

“It’s time to stop giving his ill-thought through ideas oxygen, and hand the Brexit decision back to the public through a people’s vote.”

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EU’s treacherous road through Romania

Plans for a post-Brexit summit in the city of Sibiu are being disrupted by Brexit, elections and infighting in Bucharest.

BUCHAREST — The EU’s trip to Transylvania is suddenly a lot scarier than anyone expected.

EU leaders still plan to gather for a special summit on May 9 in the city of Sibiu to begin charting their post-Brexit future, but the path there is filled with political uncertainty and peril.

To start with, leaders cannot even be certain that the U.K. will have exited the bloc by then, potentially leaving them like a betrayed spouse whose ex just won’t move out. But the leaders also face an array of increasingly difficult policy fights, particularly on migration, as well as the risk of becoming ensnared in bitter domestic political infighting in Romania, which this week officially kicked off its six-month presidency of the Council of the EU.

European Commission officials, in particular, have long hyped the Sibiu summit as a potential turning-point, allowing them to showcase the achievements of President Jean-Claude Juncker during his five-year mandate and to plan for a future without the U.K.

“The summit in Sibiu, on May the 9th, will be the landmark of our presidency, taking into account its role in preparing the future strategic priorities of the Union for the period 2019-2024,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said during a meeting with commissioners in Bucharest on Friday.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L) and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis (R) pose for photographers at the Cotroceni Palace, the Romanian Presidency headquarters in Bucharest, on January 11, 2019 | Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

But some senior EU officials cautioned that the public expectations for Sibiu would need to be reduced sharply given the treacherous political landscape. Solving tough policy disputes, like the migration fight, now seem impossible before May’s European Parliament elections.

“The informal summit in Sibiu will be a chance to have a first discussion of the next strategic agenda for the European Union,” a senior official said. “At the same time, one has to remember it will be just before the EU elections, so probably not the greatest time to have discussions on migration package or the eurozone budget.”

The official added, “So we need to have not only a road to Sibiu but also a road from Sibiu afterwards.”

The feedback from leaders in Sibiu is expected to yield formal Council conclusions to be adopted at a regular summit in Brussels in June. But the results of the Parliament elections in late May could substantially alter the equation.

“As a reminiscence of the communist past, some institutions and decision-makers are still holding on to the unchecked power they have previously indulged in” — Călin Popescu-Tăricean, Romanian Senate President

Just getting to the point of the Sibiu summit, including a push to complete a giant backlog of more than 200 legislative initiatives put forward by the Juncker Commission, will largely be in the hands of Romania, which is starting its first-ever presidency of the Council of the EU. But Bucharest of late has been engulfed in political strife.

President Iohannis, of the center-right National Liberal Party, and Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, of the center-left Social Democrat Party, have been at each other’s throats in recent weeks with Iohannis rejecting Dăncilă’s nominees for minister of transport and minister of development, and Dăncilă demanding that she — not Iohannis — represent Romania at European Council summits.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Social Democrats, Liviu Dragnea, has filed a lawsuit against the European Commission after being accused of misappropriating €21 million in EU funds in a corruption scheme.

The Social Democrats are Romania’s most powerful party but Dragnea is barred from serving as prime minister because of a conviction in a fraud case — an attempt to rig a referendum in 2012 that led to a suspended jail sentence. And Brussels has issued a stern warning about potential erosions to the rule-of-law in the wake of a legislative proposal to grant amnesty to Dragnea.

Juncker, in a remarkable foray into the domestic politics of an EU country, urged Romania on Friday to end its squabbling — the sort of rebuke that would seem inconceivable if the infighting involved France or Germany.

“I encourage the Romanian authorities to put an end to the internal disagreements and disputes that there may be within Romania,” Juncker said at a news conference with Dăncilă. Referring to Romania’s role leading the Council, he said, “it’s very important to put these to one side, domestic political issues. I heard the prime minister tell me that she has a clear wish not to cast any shadows on the Romanian presidency by exporting internal difficulties to Europe.”

Eastern concerns

Juncker’s remarks were certain to touch a nerve not just in Romania, but among other newer, Central and Eastern European countries that have long complained of a double-standard in the way Brussels treats them compared to founding nations like Italy or Belgium.

Indeed, Romania’s internal strife briefly burst into public view during a formal opening ceremony on Thursday night at the majestic Athenaeum concert hall.

In a speech, Romanian Senate President Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, a former prime minister who is now in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats party, blasted some of the country’s leaders.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, walk at the Victoria Palace, the Romanian Presidency headqurters in Bucharest January 11, 2019 | Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

“As a reminiscence of the communist past, some institutions and decision-makers are still holding on to the unchecked power they have previously indulged in,” Popescu-Tăriceanu said. “These actors have simply replaced the ideology of socialist legality with that of the rule of law, keeping their habits and claiming the same unaccountability they collectively enjoyed before 1989.”

He added, “I hope that during the presidency of the Council of the European Union, the authorities of my country will be able to shed more light on this paradox.”

On Friday, some EU officials warned that adopting the measure granting amnesty to Dragnea would set off a crisis between Bucharest and Brussels and they expressed confidence that Dăncilă’s government would not push the measure.

EU officials are hoping that the spotlight of the presidency will help ease some of the tensions in Bucharest, and that the potential rewards of a successful stewardship of the Council will encourage Romanian officials to stay in line and cooperate with each other. As an example, Juncker on Friday reiterated his support for Romania to be included in the visa-free Schengen travel zone and called on EU leaders to allow Romania’s membership of Schengen to move forward.

As a first side-project of its presidency, Romania created the European Union Orchestra (an EU Youth Orchestra already exists) with musicians from all across the bloc, which made its debut at Thursday night’s opening ceremony. Officials are hoping Romania’s own debut performance on the European stage will go as smoothly.

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When movie stars do politics

When stars of the big screen cozy up to stars of the small podium.

There’s no shortage of movie stars willing to swap Punches! Kicks! Explosions! for Regulation! Filibuster! Trilogues!

In the U.S., they’ve had great success: Arnold Schwarzenegger went from “The Terminator” to the Governator, Clint Eastwood swapped “Dirty Harry” for mayor of Carmel, and Jesse Ventura traded “Predator” for governor of Minnesota. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has ruled himself  out of the 2020 presidential race, but only because he’s busy.

Others don’t go that far but do like to cosy up to politicians or let their fans know all about their political beliefs.

Here are some examples:

Chuck Norris

The American star of “Way of the dragon” and “Walker, Texas ranger” is mate with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, star of “no foreigners allowed” and “Close the border, fast.”

The two strongmen met in Budapest last month, a meeting captured in a video in which Orbán (who has a law degree and studied at the University of Oxford) describes himself as “a street fighter basically, I’m not coming from the elite.”

Chuck Norris during an event of the Republican presidential primary in 2008 | Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Orbán also told the American that “90 percent of the comments on me is negative … the liberals hate me.”

“You’re like Trump,” Norris said.

“A little bit more than that!” Orbán replied with obvious glee.

The two men then head to watch the Hungarian counter-terrorism unit in training, and their terrifying demonstration of shouting and punching things prompts Norris to say: “I have seen training all over the world, and this is the best demonstration, the best I’ve seen.”

Norris has form when it comes to conservative politics. He’s the author of “Black belt patriotism: How to reawaken America,” a book described by one fan in the comments section of as “common scents.”

Steven Seagal

The action movie star — who appeared in “Above the law,” “A dangerous man” and “Out of reach” — works for his good friend Vladimir Putin, star of “Above the law,” “A dangerous man” and “Out of reach.”

Seagal spent most of his movie career being out-acted by bits of furniture and potted plants, before moving on to blues music (“Talk to my ass” being a particular highlight of his repertoire). In August, however, Seagal was given a new role, as Moscow’s “special representative” on U.S.-Russian humanitarian ties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Steven Seagal | Alexei Nikolsky/AFP via Getty Images

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Seagal’s mission will include promoting “relations between Russia and the United States in the humanitarian field, including cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges,” which sounds exactly like what Donald Trump does.

The actor, whose grandmother was born in Vladivostok, became a Russian citizen in November 2016.

Jean-Claude Van Damme

The action hero and martial artist who starred in the film “In hell” is a supporter of Donald Trump.

“Right now, we need Donald Trump,” the “muscles from Brussels” and tiny dog hugger said ahead of the U.S. election.

The feeling’s mutual. Trump once told The New Yorker that Van Damme’s “Bloodsport” is one of his favorite movies.

Pamela Anderson

Anderson wasn’t known for her political convictions when she starred in “Baywatch” and the classic “Barb Wire” but she’s making up for it now.

She’s weighed in on Brexit — saying: “I’m sure I could have negotiated better conditions than this dumb deal. I have been negotiating with Hollywood for decades. I could handle [EU chief negotiator] Mr. Michel Barnier” — and French politics — “Mr. Mélenchon for President!,” Anderson wrote on her website ahead of the French presidential election, offering her support to far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

She also lent her voice to the Catalan independence movement, writing in a blog post that “they were actually not asking for that much or were excessive in their demands” and describing the Spanish government as “totally idiotic.”

And all of Europe should be concerned by the “slide towards a new form of fascism in Italy,” she warned.

Pamela Anderson visits a classroom for refugee children in the migrant and refugee camp of Grande-Synthe, northern France, in 2017 | Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images

She’s also dubbed Theresa May “the worst Prime Minister in living memory.”

“Theresa May, who is on her last legs. Theresa May of the Pyhrric victory. Theresa May, who won’t shake the hand of the victims of the Grenfell fire. Who doesn’t care about poor people. Who doesn’t care about justice or peace,” Anderson wrote as part of an impassioned plea to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the threat of prosecution.

Anderson has spoken of her “romantic connection” with Assange, who lives in a cupboard in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy in London

How the Hollywood sex symbol got to know the world’s most wanted hacker is something of a mystery. All Anderson would tell the Hollywood Reporter was that they met “years ago” and that that she “takes a lot of notes” when they speak as “it’s so overwhelming, the information he gives me.”

Sean Connery

The second-best James Bond is a long-time Scottish nationalist but didn’t turn out to rally the troops ahead of 2014 vote on independence.

There was speculation that the actor, who starred in Bond classics “Never pay tax again” and “From the Caribbean with love,” would fly in from the Bahamas to make a morale-boosting intervention for the Yes camp. But his brother Neil said: “There’s only a certain amount of days Sean can be in the country for tax reasons, so I know that he intends to use them wisely.”

Sean Connery during and American Film Institute tribute in 2006 | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI

Michael Caine

Not merely an action movie star, of course, but a serious double Oscar-winner, Caine — who starred in the likes of “Get Carter,” “Zulu” and “The Italian Job” — is a staunch Brexiteer, perhaps unaware that after the U.K.’s departure he will be unable to audaciously steal a shipment of gold from Turin without official paperwork.

He told the BBC in October: “People say ‘Oh, you’ll be poor, you’ll be this, you’ll be that’. I say I’d rather be a poor master of my fate than having someone I don’t know making me rich by running it.”

Brigitte Bardot

The French star is a supporter of the Yellow Jackets who have caused widespread disruption across France and forced Emmanuel Macron into an embarrassing public climbdown on a fuel tax.

Bardot is no stranger to activism, and controversy. Opposed to what she sees as the inherent cruelty of the halal method of killing animals, she has made numerous anti-Muslim comments for which she was condemned by the courts and made to pay hefty fines. Between 1997 and 2008 she faced French judges five times for “incitement to racial hatred.”

She also urged people to vote for Marine Le Pen over the “steely eyed” Macron in last year’s presidential election.

Read this next: What European voters worry about

2018: The year in figures and charts

Telling the story of the last 12 months through data.

What a tremendous, nebulous year.

Very much like last year, 2018 was full of endless Brexit drama. And endless Trump drama. And then there was some more Brexit drama. And some more Trump drama. But hey, other stuff happened too (right?).

The French proved that they are still the global champions of street protests, the far right grabbed headlines across the Continent and Angela Merkel prepared to abdicate.

From politics to climate change, gay rights and technology giants, here are the figures behind the topics that defined 2018.

Eddy Wax contributed reporting.

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EU citizens still welcome after Brexit

UK minister lays out the government’s post-Brexit migration policy.

The United Kingdom’s departure from the EU means an end to freedom of movement between the two, but the British government still wants EU citizens to know they are very welcome to come to Britain to visit, work and study.

On Wednesday we set out what the new skills-based immigration system will mean for Europeans coming to the U.K.

The U.K. may be leaving the EU, but we are determined that our shared values and enduring friendships with Europe will continue long into the future.

Our shared history and commitment to democracy, prosperity and security will mean we continue to influence each other after Brexit.

EU citizens have made magnificent contributions to our economy and society, just as British people have done in countries across Europe.

We are not just reassessing the shape of our immigration system, we are also taking steps to modernize the processes that support it.

One of the top priorities for the government has been securing their rights, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, and we have been clear that we will protect their rights, deal or no deal.

The EU Settlement Scheme, which opens next year, will be simple to use and allow more than 3 million people who have made Britain their home to stay here.

We have successfully processed thousands of applications through the pilot of the scheme, it is already working well and the feedback from those using it is positive.

We welcome the Commission’s announcement this week that member states should ensure that U.K. citizens legally residing in the EU on the date of withdrawal continue to be considered legal residents.

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

However, once we leave the EU our relationship will change.

Our new single skills-based immigration system will enable EU workers to come to the U.K. when they are sponsored by companies operating here.

There will be no limit on the number of skilled people, such as engineers, doctors and IT professionals, who can come to live and work here through a new route open to people who meet a salary threshold that the government is consulting on. That route will be open to people with a wide range of qualifications.

The U.K. is home to some of the very best universities in the world and already over 440,000 students from across the world are currently studying in the U.K. We recognize the positive contribution that these students make to our culture and society.

After Brexit we will continue to welcome students from across Europe and we will not limit their numbers. Under the student visa route, every EU student studying at university will have generous work rights whilst studying, and the opportunity to secure permanent, skilled work post-study.

This new immigration system allows us to deliver on the views that the British people expressed in the EU referendum, but it will still enable Europeans with the skills and experience that will benefit the U.K. economy and our society to come.

We are not just reassessing the shape of our immigration system, we are also taking steps to modernize the processes that support it. As part of that, we will introduce a new Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme — similar to the ETIAS system announced by the EU last week.

It will be a simple online service with a low fee and will allow EU citizens to come for short visits and people with biometric passports will be able to go through our efficient e-gates as smoothly as before.

These proposals show that while we have honored the EU referendum, we will still be open to Europe and look forward to forging the next chapter in our history.

Caroline Nokes is the U.K.’s minister of state for immigration.

Read this next: Fears of Euroskepticism blunt Brussels’ budget threats against Rome

How unusual – Downing Street trying to persuade the Home Office to be tougher on immigration

Normally it’s the other way round. How long will it be before the traditional divide reasserts itself?

The Home Office and the Treasury have a fraught history of squabbling over immigration. Home Secretaries place primacy on questions of border integrity and control, and know that various of their predecessors’ careers have been destroyed by failing to live up to popular expectations and their own promises on the topic. The Treasury, meanwhile, believes – both due to its own analysis and its regular contact with large businesses – that their colleagues on Marsham Street are imperilling economic growth with an obsession with constraining immigration at any cost.

The balance of power within government between these two positions ebbs and flows. In the Cameron years, the “tens of thousands” net migration pledge held – at least rhetorically, if not practically – as a form of uneasy truce. The two occupants of Downing Street were instinctively more relaxed about immigration than Theresa May, but they recognised that any prospect of electoral success required at least some presentational effort to square away the issue.

Nonetheless, as the target was repeatedly missed it became a source of friction in both directions, with the Treasury wondering aloud about relaxing an unmet goal, perhaps by exempting students, and the Home Office pointing to the rise of UKIP as a deterrent against any attempt to abandon it. Everybody knew that the net migration pledge was essentially unfulfillable, at least while the UK economy grew and EU membership required free movement, but the already sensitive topic was becoming harder and harder to handle. It duly helped to sink Cameron’s renegotiation, and then contributed in no small part to his defeat in the referendum.

Traditionally the Treasury has tended to have more influence in Number 10 than the Home Office. Chancellors hold a more mighty Great Office of State, they live next door to the Prime Minister, and they control the purse strings. Added to which, the growth of the rights which the Treasury claims over other departments means that its officials often end up going to Number 10 in various capacities, both operational and policy.

Given that context the immigration battle within government normally involves the Treasury pushing for more, with a sympathetic hearing from the Prime Minister, and the Home Office battling for less, waving the polls as a cudgel.

However, this is 2018 so everything is upside down and back to front – hence the peculiar sight of a Home Office-dominated Number 10, occupied by a Prime Minister personally committed to the “tens of thousands” pledge, trying to persuade a more business-minded Home Secretary to be tougher on immigration than he would instinctively like.

One can see in the way that May prioritised immigration apparently above everything else including the costs of EU regulation in her Brexit negotiations that she has no intention of shifting her position. Where David Cameron once joked that he and she were the only two supporters of the net migration target in government, she now seems like the only one. Indeed, it has fallen to a frustrated Downing Street to clarify today that this is still the official policy, after the Home Secretary told the BBC “there’s no specific target.”

I wouldn’t expect this unusual state of affairs to persist for very long, though; the traditional Treasury vs Home Office divide will likely reassert itself in time. Brexit offers the chance to draw some of the fury out of the immigration debate, as can already be seen by a softening of public opinion now that people at least believe the policy will be under their democratic control. As that happens, I suspect we will see more intense inter-departmental scraps about it, as ambitious ministers bid to appeal to different segments of the electorate – in other words, returning the topic to one of normal democratic politics.

UK publishes post-Brexit immigration plan

EU citizens’ automatic right to settle and work in the UK will end.

LONDON — British businesses will be given “time to adjust” to the end of free movement from the EU, U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said while announcing plans for a “new route” for workers of any skill level to come to the U.K. for a year at a time after Brexit.

The policy, contained in the U.K. government’s long-awaited white paper on immigration, will remain under review but could stay in place until 2025.

It would apply to nationals of unspecified “low risk” countries but is aimed at ensuring sectors that depend on EU labor continue to have access to it after Brexit, the white paper states. EU citizens’ automatic right to settle and work in the U.K. will end.

The white paper states that the U.K.’s new immigration policy should “control the numbers and type of people” coming to the U.K. and should “reduce annual net migration to sustainable levels as set out in the Conservative Party manifesto.

However, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Wednesday, Javid refused to repeat the Tory 2017 manifesto’s commitment to bring annual net migration to the U.K. — currently estimated at around 273,000 — down to the “tens of thousands.”

But when asked during her final Prime Minister’s Questions session of 2018, Theresa May said – categorically — that reducing numbers to the tens of thousands was still the government’s intention.

As recommended by the independent Migration Advisory Committee earlier this year, there will be no cap on high-skilled workers coming to the U.K. from either EU or non-EU countries. The MAC suggested that, alongside recognized qualifications, workers coming to the U.K. would require a minimum salary of £30,000.

The government is not yet committing to this figure, and will now undergo a a 12-month period of consultation with businesses before finalizing immigration rules.

However, a new Immigration Bill, enshrining in law the end of free movement, will begin its passage through parliament on Thursday and will need to be completed by the U.K.’s exit day if the country leaves the EU without a deal.

If the U.K. leaves with a deal, EU migrants will continue to enjoy their existing free movement rights during the 21-month transition period. When the transition ends in December 2020, the U.K.’s new immigration rules will come into force.

The U.K.’s final immigration rules could also be subject to trade negotiations with the EU and with other countries, which are likely to seek favorable access for their citizens as a quid pro quo for improved trading terms.

In his foreword to the white paper, Javid acknowledged that the “future system will be flexible as we go on to strike future trade deals with the EU and other countries.”

Under the new temporary “route,” workers would be able to secure a visa to come to the U.K. for a year, with or without a job offer. After 12 months they would be subject to a 12-month “cooling off period,” meaning they could not renew their temporary immigration status for a year. They would also be unable to access public funds or bring dependants to live with them.

The white paper states: “We acknowledge that there are particular difficulties in recruiting staff in certain parts of the UK, particularly more rural and remote areas and regions. We also recognise that some sectors have built up a reliance on lower skilled workers from the EU, often for relatively short periods, such as those which require additional workers in the run-up to Christmas.

“We recognise that employers in these areas require a period of time to change their ways of working once they have certainty about the shape of our future immigration system.”

Javid described the measures in his white paper foreword as “a transitional measure, a temporary short-term workers route to ensure businesses have the staff they need and to help employers move smoothly to the new immigration system.”

He added: “We understand this is the most significant change to the immigration system in more than 40 years, and so employers will need time to adjust.”