Was Brexit all about immigration and who are the children migrating unaccompanied to Europe?

In the aftermath of the EU referendum in the UK, in which the British population voted to leave, we discuss the prominence of immigration in the debate with Robert Ford, Professor in Political Science at the University of Manchester, and Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer and broadcaster. We also talk to Nando Sigona, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, about the situation for unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Europe.

Both hostility to immigration and hostility to the EU have become expressions of a world that has gone out of one’s control.

Kenan Malik

Many have described the Brexit referendum as a referendum about immigration. Kenan Malik, who has written extensively on immigration, populism and identity, argues that while this is certainly true to a large extent, it wasn’t all about immigration. He also suggests that immigration as such, the number of immigrants coming to the UK, isn’t the root of the issue. Rather, he suggests, the more restrictions on immigration fail to resolve the underlying issues of marginalisation, the more those underlying sentiments of disaffection will grow.

The public don’t treat immigration or immigrants as a single undifferentiated mass. There’s very clear differences in how they view different parts of the issue. The problem is that policy and politics hasn’t treated it in that way.

Robert Ford

Robert Ford, co-author of Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain, points out that, while it isn’t all about the number of immigrants, numbers seem to matter in making immigration a political priority for voters. He also explains that the Brexit referendum was different than the 1975 referendum in that, back then, voters who were concerned with immigration were more pro-EU, whereas now anti-immigration and anti.EU sentiments go hand in hand. Find out more about Robert’s research here.

Imagine that you are accepted as a 15-year old, you go to school and at some point the social worker that is attached to the school thinks that, no, you’re actually not behaving like a 15-year old. So suddenly your age is questioned, your own identity is questioned. You go through a process, which might take a few weeks or months in ascertaining what age you are and then you may be moved to a different set of arrangements.

Nando Sigona

Nando Sigona, Director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity and co-authour of Sans Papiers: The Social and Economic Lives of Young Undocumented Migrant, explains that there was a large increase in unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Europe last year. From his extensive research, he also explains why there are mainly young boys travelling on their own, why some disappear from authorities in Europe and the precarious situation of these children, some who are victims of trafficking or exploitation. Read more about Nando’s work on his blog.

 

 

 

 

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