Friday, 22 May 2020

Timing and EU membership

Continued pressure by Liberal Democrats and rather more ambivalent representations by Labour have finally told. The Johnson government has relented over the visa surcharge for migrant health service workers. What tipped the balance was the growing opposition from Johnson's own Conservative backbenchers, clearly swayed by the growing public recognition of the service (and sadly in too many cases, sacrifices) given to the health services of Britain by non-British people. Most of these entered the UK from the continent when we were still members of the EU and enjoyed free movement. One wonders whether, if the membership referendum were held now at the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic, the implications of losing those vital personnel had hit deeply enough to produce a different result.

(It has been clear for some time that if the EU referendum had preceded that for Scottish independence, the result of one or the other would have been different.)

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