The Merits of Migration

Article excerpt

In the UK, our attitude to immigration has always differed from that of the Americans. The US is a nation built by and consisting of migrants. We Brits mistrust outsiders and have, at our worst, adopted a little-islander mentality towards them - although this is nothing compared to the rampant xenophobia of, say, Russia or Japan.

Being tough on outsiders is a current vote-winner, but the Government's downer on immigration is having unwelcome effects. It has deterred high-spending Chinese tourists, foreign students and, worse, capable entrepreneurial types eager to start up new businesses in Britain. Clearly - as the Daily Mail will never cease to tell us - it's probably a bad idea if next January we are 'swamped' by tens of thousands of Romanians who, with their horsemeat sandwiches, turn up at Stansted ready to sign on for Jobseeker's Allowance. But we need some growth here and our feature on immigrant entrepreneurs at the digital hub of London's Silicon Roundabout shows that many newcomers from outside the EU are good at creating jobs and wealth - and paying their taxes.

So, without sounding like a grey junior trade minister intoning his brief, we say that in the globalised, interconnected world, Britain has to be open for business. Come on board the good ship Britannia and roll your sleeves up. Meanwhile, here's a short list of foreign-born talents whom we're very lucky to have signed up already: Tom Stoppard, Mark Carney, Marjorie Scardino, Tidjane Thiam, Zaha Hadid, Robin van Persie. …