A few quick takeaways from tonight’s immigration debate:
- Whatever the academic truth about the impact of immigration on Britain is, this is the issue that more than any other in this campaign excites real passion. And in a place like Boston there are many with direct experience of its costs as well as its benefits. Some of the most striking contributions tonight were from members of the panel and audience talking about the effect of high levels of immigration on NHS services, and wages.
- Even defenders of free movement within Europe are reluctant to defend the idea of a Britain with a population of 80 million – the ONS’s projection for 2060 on current trends. When Evan challenged Remain advocate David Hanson on this, he preferred to argue that the population would never reach those levels.
- There is still no settled view within the Leave camp about what Out looks like. Michael Gove this weekend insisted our future would lie outside the single market. But Kwasi Kwarteng, arguing for Leave tonight, thought the UK’s post-Brexit status remained a matter for negotiation.
- When this campaign is over, a lot of Conservative MPs will have said a lot of distinctly unhelpful things about the Tories’ record in government. Tonight it was Kwasi Kwarteng, dissing the government’s record on immigration: “That was a clear manifesto commitment that we haven’t reached.”