The Politics and Policy of Skilled Economic Immigration Under New Labour, 1997–2010

  • Will Somerville
Part of the Immigrants and Minorities, Politics and Policy book series (IMPP)


Changes to British immigration policy under the Labour government (1997-2010) have been significant. The analysis provided here suggests at least two distinct policy phases. The first phase marked a liberalisation of the system that can be attributed in large part to a combination of the business lobby’s influence and economic growth combined with increased global integration of the UK economy. The second phase—including the creation of the Points-Based System—did not reverse the core policy goal of managed economic migration, but asserted strong control elements in a rule-bound system. This later period of policy change can be attributed to new political and social realities following the 2004 expansion of the European Union and the General Election of 2005 together with greater political attention to public opinion on immigration generally. Future trends will include a cap on non-EU migration.


Immigration Policy Policy Community Work Permit Conservative Party Skilled Immigration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Balch A (2009) Labour and epistemic communities: the case of ‘managed migration’ in the UK. Brit J Polit Int Relat 11(4):613–633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blitz B (2010) High skilled migration. International Studies Encyclopedia, Volume Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration, pp 3292–3320 Google Scholar
  3. Cerna L (2009) The governance of high-skilled immigration policies in advanced industrial countries. Ph.D. dissertation, University of OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. DTI (1998) Our competitive future: building the knowledge driven economy, CM 4176, Department for Trade and Industry, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Dummett A, Nicol A (1990) Subjects, citizens, aliens and others. Weidenfeld, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Finney N (2005) Key issues: public opinion on asylum and refugee issues. Navigation guide, Information Centre for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (ICAR), LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Glover S, Gott C, Loizillon A, Portes J, Price R, Spencer S (2001) Migration: an economic and social analysis, RDS Occasional Paper no. 67. Home Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Hansen R (2000) Citizenship and immigration in post-war Britain: the institutional origins of a multicultural nation. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Hanson T, Sullivan S, Bolling K (2009) Points-based system pilot process evaluation—tier 1 highly skilled applicant survey. BRMB Social Research, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Home Office (2005) Controlling our borders: making migration work for Britain–five year strategy for asylum and immigration. CM 6472, Home Office, London Google Scholar
  11. Home Office (2006) A points-based system: making migration work for Britain. CM 6472, Home Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. House of Lords (2008) The economic impact of immigration. HL Paper 82-I, HMSO, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Joppke C (1999) Immigration and the nation state: the United States, Germany and great Britain. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kay D, Miles R (1992) Refugees or migrant workers: European volunteer workers in Britain 1946-51. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Layton-Henry Z (1992) The politics of immigration: immigration, race, and race relations in post-war Britain. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. Lavenex S (2004) Towards an international framework for labour mobility? The general agreement on trade in service (GATS). In: Bommes M, Hoesch K, Hunger U, Kolb H (eds) Organisational recruitment and patterns of migration: interdependencies in an integrating Europe, IMES-Beitrage, Osnabruck, pp 23–47Google Scholar
  17. Lewis M (2005) Asylum: understanding public attitudes. IPPR, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Martin P, Ruhs M (2010) Labour shortages and US immigration reform: promises and perils of an independent commission. Working Paper 81, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  19. Migration Advisory Committee (2009) Analysis of the points-based system: tier 2 and dependents. Home Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Millar J, Salt J (2008) Portfolios of mobility: the movement of expertise in transnational corporations in two sectors—aerospace and extractive industries. Glob Netw 8(1):25–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Murray A (2011) Britain’s points-based migration system. Centreforum, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Page B (2009) British attitudes to immigration in the 21st century. In: Migration policy institute and the bertelsmann stiftung (ed) Migration, public opinion, and politics, Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Transatlantic Council on Migration, Berlin, pp 131–155Google Scholar
  23. Robinson I (2009). Untitled. Speech delivered to IPPR, 9 Sept 2009Google Scholar
  24. Rollason N (2002) International mobility of highly skilled workers: the UK perspective. OECD, Paris, pp 327–342Google Scholar
  25. Salt J (2009) International migration and the United Kingdom. Report of the United Kingdom correspondent to the OECD, Paris, (2008)Google Scholar
  26. Spencer S (2003) The politics of migration. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  27. Statham P, Geddes A (2006) Elites and the organised public: who drives British immigration policy and in which direction? W Eur Polit 29(2):248–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Somerville W (2007) Immigration under new labour. Policy Press, BristolGoogle Scholar
  29. Somerville W (2009) Future immigration patterns and policies in the United Kingdom. In: Migration Policy Institute and the Bertelsmann Stiftung (ed) Migration, public opinion, and politics, Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Transatlantic Council on Migration, Berlin, pp 314–340Google Scholar
  30. Somerville W, Sumption M (2009) Immigration and the labour market: theory: evidence and policy. Equality and Human Rights Commission, LondonGoogle Scholar
  31. Somerville W, Goodman S (2010) The role of networks in the development of UK migration policy. Polit Stud 58(5):951–970CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sumption M, Somerville W (2010) The UK’s new Europeans: progress and challenges five years after accession. Equality and Human Rights Commission, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Trott P (2005) Working, business, investment and retirement in the UK. In: Ian A, MacDonald QC, Webber F (eds) MacDonald’s law and practice, 6th edn. LexisNexis Butterworths, UK, pp 505–578Google Scholar

Further Readings

  1. Freeman G (1994) Britain, the deviant case. In: Cornelius W, Martin P, Hollifield J, (eds) Controlling immigration: a global perspective, Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp 297–300Google Scholar
  2. Home Office (2007) Securing the UK border: our vision and strategy for the future. Home Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Papademetriou D (2006) Europe and its immigrants in the 21st century: a new deal or a continuing dialogue of the deaf? MPI, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  4. Saggar S (1992) The politics of race in Britain. Harvester Wheatsheaf, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Saggar S (1998) Race and British electoral politics. UCL Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Salt J, Millar J (2006) Foreign labour in the United Kingdom: current patterns and trends. Labour Mar Trends, 335–355Google Scholar
  7. Salt J (2007) International movements of the highly skilled. OCED, ParisGoogle Scholar
  8. Spencer S (2008) Immigration. In: Seldon A (ed) Blair’s Britain 1997–2007, CUP, Cambridge, pp 341–360Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Washington DCUSA

Personalised recommendations