ID cards not Brexit ‘better at controlling immigration’

Report finds electronic identity card would address many voters’ concerns about immigration without the need for Brexit

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A sample UK ID card proposed by Labour in 2008
(Image credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The introduction of electronic identity cards would address many voters’ concerns about immigration without the need for Brexit, a report from Global Future has found.

Rather than being opposed to immigration in principle, the think tank suggests the public wants tougher action against criminals and those seen to be taking advantage of the rules.

To address these concerns, the report said ID cards that controlled people’s right to live, work, claim benefits and use public services should be coupled with a tougher approach to integration that would force immigrants to learn English.

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The UK is the only EU country that does not have a national ID system and has often taken a more relaxed approach to managing free movement from the bloc, unlike some of its European counterparts.

In a bid to address the issue of immigration ahead of a possible People’s Vote, Charles Clarke and Alan Johnson writing in The Guardian have stressed the need to “re-establish a national identity system using new technology to establish secure digital identities for everyone. Among other benefits, this would make it easier to identify illegal migration.”

Arguing that Remain supporters needed to show they were responding to the issues that led people to vote for Brexit, former cabinet minister Lord Adonis also backed the findings.

“The choice between EU membership and controlling migration is a false one. Electronic ID cards would mean we know exactly who is here and give us real control over access to out public services and entitlements” he said.

However, calls to resurrect proposals for introducing ID cards in the UK “are likely to be condemned by civil rights campaigners”, says The Independent.

The Blair government put forward plans for a similar system but they were dropped by the Coalition following heavy opposition.

Despite positioning herself as tough on immigration, the irony is that Theresa May’s “first act as home secretary was to abolish identity cards, a central mechanism to give citizens confidence in the governance and control of migration” say the two former Labour home secretaries.

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