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What the papers say: How Project Fear failed to materialise

18 April 2017

8:45 AM

18 April 2017

8:45 AM

Exactly a year ago today, George Osborne was busy unveiling the Treasury’s famously doom-laden analysis about Brexit. Now with his six jobs and bulging bank balance the former chancellor is busier than ever. But the worries he spoke of about economic uncertainty have failed to materialise, and the prophecies of misery foretold by Project Fear are nowhere to be seen.

The Daily Mail says the Treasury document ‘formed the centrepiece of Project Fear and deployed a barrage of apocalyptic forecasts’ about what would happen if Britain voted Leave. In reality, the paper says, only one in ten of Osborne’s predictions have come true – and the ‘the worst ones have all proved to be demonstrably false’. We were told unemployment could rise by half-a-million, for instance; instead, the Mail points out, employment levels are better than ever. The good news doesn’t stop there though for the Mail, which says that Britain’s economy is growing fast and ‘non-EU countries (are) queuing up to strike new trade deals’. Of course, there may well be ‘economic storms ahead’. But after Brexit, ‘Britain is in much better shape to weather them than the crumbling eurozone’.

Project Fear may have failed to materialise, but there are still challenges from Brexit, the Times says. One of the big ones is what the Government can do to encourage foreign workers to come to the UK once we’re out of the EU. There’s no doubt that Britain is getting older, the paper says, and ‘there are fewer people of working age to support them’. This is why it’s vital that young workers from abroad are able to come to the UK to ‘alleviate immediate labour shortages’. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, clearly had this in mind when she unveiled her ‘barista visa’, which would give those from the EU a two-year visa to come to Britain to work in particular industries. But despite some saying this plan is a good idea, the Times has a different verdict: ‘It is anything but that’. Instead, this ‘peripheral’ remedy shows clearly ’the alarming lack of forethought’ the Government is giving to the topic of immigration. The paper says that similar schemes elsewhere show that the number who actually apply is small. After all, ‘why would any ambitious person seeking a better life be attracted to it?’. It’s also true that this plan would do little to alleviate the potential shortage of foreign workers in key industries such as ‘food manufacturing where ‘well over a quarter of the workforce comprises EU nationals’, the Times says. The paper concludes by saying that there is an answer to this problem: ‘to make immigration restrictions much looser outside the EU’. But will ‘Brexit campaigners’ be happy with this idea?

But the Telegraph disagrees with the Times –  it says that it’s clear the Government is on top of its brief on immigration. The paper points to plans set to be unveiled by Liz Truss that would speed up the removal of failed asylum seekers to make the point. But the paper says the government must not miss the chance to win over those who are ‘cynical’ given the ‘past failures’ on immigration. Now that Brexit is underway, the Telegraph says ‘no excuses are left’ – and finally ‘the Government has a chance to build an immigration system the voters can have faith in’.

The Sun says that it’s certainly true that the status quo for dealing with failed asylum seekers who try to delay their removal from Britain with lengthy appeals is ridiculous. ‘It’s ludicrous,’ the paper argues, that as many as 2,000 foreign criminals, failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are trying to do just that each year. This means Liz Truss is right to ‘try to tackle this clear insult to common sense’. Instead, it’s time for a simple principle: ‘if you’re not entitled to be here, you shouldn’t be here’. But for all the hope of this new plan, the Sun says it isn’t convinced it’ll end up working. After all, the paper concludes, ‘you can guarantee that lawyers will end up frustrating the best-laid plans.’


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