Anna Soubry has made an impassioned plea for the government to take a lenient approach towards immigration post-Brexit.
At a conference fringe debate organised by liberal-conservative think tank Bright Blue, the former Health Minister said that Britain should stay within the single market, and that the arguments that immigration has put a strain on areas such as public services were based on “myth”.
When asked specifically about students, she said that the way non-EU students are currently treated should not be the model the government applies to EU students once post-Brexit.
“Certainly in relation to students from India, they have felt unable to get places because of exactly that, the restrictions that are places on the places, and so they have gone almost in their droves to Canada and Australia.”
Soubry stated that the UK would benefit on fewer restrictions on student migration.
“If we have an intelligent discussion about the huge values of overseas students to our country we’d make progress.”
“Here’s some facts: we know the overwhelming majority of students return home to their countries, in some instances sadly they’re not able to be get to their home country.
“Having students from overseas to come to this country is something we should be profoundly proud of, and we should be opening up our borders and saying we welcome you.”
Professor Rob Ford of the University of Manchester, who was also on the panel, stated that this is in line with public opinion.
“The public, first of all thinks students are economically beneficial, secondly support them coming, and thirdly, if you ask them straight up if you think student migrants are migrants, they say no.”
Ford added that flawed use of opinion polls with regards to immigration may lead to international students being treated within the generality of immigration.
“Some sections of immigration have never been an issue to the public, but they get pulled into the debate because they never get asked about separately.”