Freedom of movement is a simple principle and some countries are more attractive than others. Britain may have some 77 million by 2060, overtaking Germany as the most populous country in Europe . A happy result as this adds more energy to our mongrellous mix. Get rid of the welfare state and we may attract even more economic migrants, even more entrepreneurs and get even richer faster.
Still, good news brings out the illiberal. We have the Tories aping Labour, adding stasis to their statist hungers, with a po-faced limit on all immigration.
The Conservatives are demanding an annual limit on immigration, to take “into account its impact on the public service infrastructure” as well as a broader policy “to tackle other issues like family breakdown” and ageing.
The prize for chumpdom extends to greenery: with their wistful carry trade of ecocide and dreaming spires, with cyclists trading organic marrows between villages of happy farmers:
Rosamund McDougall, policy director at the Optimum Population Trust, has called “for stabilisation and gradual decrease to five million fewer people in Britain by 2050”.
“This population growth is absolutely unsustainable, in environmental terms, energy terms and food production. It will make life for British citizens significantly worse,” she said.
“Even if we comprehensively greened our lifestyles, the UK could only support 27 million people – less than half its present population – from its own resources.”
The green response to freedom of movement is illiberal restriction cast in a PC lexicon:
OPT supports immigration. We want to go on doing our share of protecting persecuted refugees as well as welcoming additional skills and cultures to our already rich mix of people. The problem is how many? Since we believe that our population density is now too great for our resources, we think that a just solution is to balance immigration with emigration to help reverse population growth. As around 350,000 people leave our shores each year, we suggest limiting immigration to similar numbers, to produce a neutral effect on our population growth. More asylum seekers could be accommodated if there is a corresponding reduction in the number of economic migrants.
This fundamental divide between liberals and greens has not been grasped by the general populace. If the greens are unable to attain the carrying capacity of the United Kingdom by voluntary means, where will they go in their quest for sustainability?