I’ve argued in favour of immigration to the UK for my entire adult life – and for much of my childhood. Since as early as I could argue, in fact. That’s because I hail from a long line of Irish immigrants. The painful and demanding process of leaving your true home and setting up overseas, striving to better yourself amidst a sometimes hostile foreign culture, is hard-wired into me. Generations of Halligans have left rural Ireland, to build roads, bridges and houses across America, Australia, Canada and, in my father’s case, the UK.
So I’m from proud migrant stock. I’m also an economist. And like most economists, I recognize the overwhelmingly positive historical impact migrants have had on the British economy – be they from Asia or the Caribbean, Huguenots or Jews, from Ireland or, more recently from East European countries now members of the European Union.