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Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, has recently announced his candidacy in the United Kingdom European Parliament elections. The social activist is well-known for his opposition to Islam due to his beliefs that it leads to radicalization and crime. As such, he based his platform on reduced immigration, announcing his support of Brexit as part of the approach that would allow him to achieve that goal. However, his propositions are not sound when viewed from an economic perspective. This essay aims to elaborate on the financial dangers of Tommy Robinson’s proposed measures.
Effects of Reduced Immigration
Tommy Robinson disapproves of the current immigration rates in the United Kingdom because many of the people who come in practice, Islam. He claims that Islamification is a threat to the nation’s identity and an undesirable phenomenon, proposing stricter border policy as part of the solution1. Popular sentiment supports the idea that Muslims are unwilling to adapt and fit into modern society poorly2 The approach is logical for its intended purposes, as without constant reinforcement from new arrivals, existing immigrants would likely eventually adapt and become acclimatized citizens. Furthermore, if there are fewer Muslims in the country, their religion should spread at a lower rate.
However, the economic implications of reduced immigration are not as clear as cultural ones. The United Kingdom’s wages are most likely downward-rigid, and therefore when the influx of new workers slows down and industry expansion halts, firms in affected sectors will respond with layoffs. The people who lose their jobs will be locals, which means that reduced immigration can hurt the country’s population despite popular belief suggesting the opposite. However, it should be noted that this is not necessarily always the case, and the effects may be less pronounced if the immigrants are substitutable.
Popular opinion holds that immigrants take away jobs from native workers, especially low-skilled ones. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this is the case, and the increased influx may enable the creation of sufficient workplaces to accommodate both categories. However, the expanded selection of personnel allows the choice of workers that would best complement high-skilled employees, potentially improving performance. As such, decreased immigration may reduce productivity without creating any new workplaces for the natives.
Desirability of Brexit
Tommy Robinson claims that the population of the United Kingdom wants Brexit and will benefit from it. He states his belief that big companies and elected politicians are the obstacles in the path of the people’s will3. On the surface, his proposition appears at least partially correct, as the nation decided to leave in a referendum, but the efforts have been stalled because the ruling body cannot decide on a method. However, the economic influence of Brexit on the UK population is debatable, with arguments both for and against it existing.
On the one hand, the exit from the EU would remove a considerable economic burden from the country. The United Kingdom contributes significant resources to the EU without receiving equivalent compensation4. Furthermore, the EU’s protectionist policies are aimed at benefitting producers instead of consumers, which is consistent with Robinson’s claim that companies are more interested in remaining than the people. Assuming the UK can leave without experiencing significant economic harm, these factors provide the opportunity for considerable economic strengthening.
On the other hand, the EU will likely create such disincentives, as Brexit is undesirable from its perspective. The so-called “no deal” version of the separation, in which most or all agreements between the two entities will be ended, will inevitably cause an adverse effect by stopping the existing free trade policy. The emergence of new fees will damage industries that rely on export into the European Union, which likely constitute a significant part of British industries. It is possible that they can rearrange themselves to target different markets, particularly emerging ones, and follow Singapore’s example in becoming an important trading hub.
Tommy Robinson opposes immigration and condemns the Islamification of the United Kingdom. He also supports Brexit and considers himself the representative of the working class, which wants the procedure and is opposed by big companies and politicians. However, his ideas may not be sound from an economic perspective, potentially leading to harm for the nation’s citizens. The idea that immigrants take jobs away from natives is unproven, but it is known that they can increase the productivity of high-skilled employees. The UK will stop having to contribute to the European Union, but it may suffer economic damage that offsets the gains. Overall, Robinson’s ideas may damage Britain’s economy if they are translated into reality without consideration.
‘ECOS2307: the European Economy Budget, Social Cohesion and Convergence’, The University of Sydney, 2019.
Friedman, V., ‘Tommy Robinson Announces Candidacy for European Parliament’, Breitbart, 2019, Web.
‘Your priors…’, The University of Sydney.
- V. Friedman, ‘Tommy Robinson Announces Candidacy for European Parliament’, Breitbart, Web.
- ‘Your priors…’, p. 52.
- Friedman, ‘Tommy Robinson Announces Candidacy for European Parliament’.
- ‘ECOS2307: the European Economy Budget, Social Cohesion and Convergence’, p. 18.