Sunday, 16 February 2020

Will bread and circuses dictate Johnson's immigration policy?

Lib Dems' response to reports about government immigration policy refers.

Glenn Moore, writing in the i newspaper yesterday, drew attention to the impending end of the Premier Leagues' ability to recruit up-and-coming talent from the EU. He cites the cases of Virgil van Dijk and Riyad Mahrez, who would meet the requirements for a UK work permit now because of their international reputation, but would not have done when they were first recruited by Glasgow Celtic and Leicester City respectively, were it not for their births on the continent.

 There are also many players in the Football League who, if treated on a level with other EU residents, are liable to be repatriated as a result of Brexit. Managers of rugby league and competitive cricket teams in the UK will also be worried, because, under "Kolpak" terms, citizens of countries which have signed European Union Association Agreements have the same right to freedom of work and movement within the EU as EU citizens.

One wonders whether prime minister Johnson and his √©minence grise Cummings are aware that the areas of the country which strongly supported "Leave" in the 2016 referendum as well as voting Conservative last December are also home to many football clubs struggling outside the Premier League. If deprived of the  journeymen continental footballers who they can field at lower wages than they would have to pay Brits, those clubs may well fold. Similarly, virtually every county cricket side relies on a Kolpak player or two and a few clubs in the Yorkshire and Lancashire leagues may well have a professional who qualifies on Kolpak terms.

I would not put it past the current administration to rig their new system to assign higher points to sportsmen and -women on the cynical old Roman principle of generating "public approval, not by excellence in public service or public policy, but by diversion, distraction or by satisfying the most immediate or base requirements of a populace".

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