Yes, bring back freedom of movement!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
22 November 2022

After the budget - which was designed to make everyone expect less and pay more, especially workers demanding wage rises - Brexit has raised its head again.  Obviously, its effect on the British economy - having removed British business from its largest market - is a big negative...

    That’s not something Sunak would ever admit.  He repeated his great support for Brexit when he spoke to the Confederation of British Industry this week, denying any “Swiss arrangement” was being considered.

    The problem for business, and above all, the low-waged health and care sector, is that Brexit put a stop to the freedom of movement of workers.  Today, there is a shortage of 105,000 social care workers and 132,000 NHS staff...

    And this number is growing.  The NHS working environment is impossible, since care cannot be given if there aren’t enough workers to give it.  Everyone is covering gaps to the point of exhaustion.  No wonder nurses have voted to strike, demanding an inflation + 5% pay rise.  And a ballot of junior doctors opens on 9 January...

    So, when workers are stretched beyond their limits and breaking down in droves, what does Labour’s Starmer tell the CBI?  That they must train local people, since he is very proud to say that he too, just like Sunak, is against “freedom of movement”!  Never mind that reinstating it urgently - along with pay rises - would help plug at least some of the employment gap.

    That Starmer moves even further into the territory of the Tory right, swapping policies with Sunak, is highly likely.  In fact many commentators called Hunt’s austerity budget a “Labour” budget.  Nor is it impossible that Sunak reopens Britain’s borders to EU workers, while continuing to deny that he is reversing Brexit...  and then faces opposition from “Labour”!