NO2ID: The true cost to the UK

By PHIL BOOTH and GUY HERBERT | From this month the Government begins issuing what it calls, with an obvious nasty spin, “ID cards for foreigners”. You may not be aware what this means in practice. First affected will be students and those marrying Britons. The plan is that gradually residents from outside Europe will be fingerprinted and have to account for their movements. (Later so would we all.)

This is irrelevant to refugees and the poor unskilled with nothing to lose.

But successful foreigners such as Robinho or Kevin Spacey, and the overseas students who subsidise our universities, have a lot of choice where they study or exercise their talents. Some will decide Britain has become too unfriendly. When the US introduced more hostile visa conditions three to four years ago, the numbers applying to study there fell by 15% and Bill Gates complained that Microsoft could no longer hire some of the best software engineers.

If this scheme is continued it will lead to less fee-income and lower international status for our educational institutions. British students will have to pay higher tuition fees to make up, and will have less money to spend with local businesses. Fewer of the world’s star performers in every field will choose to make their homes here.

We value the contribution that these people make to our institutions and our society. We think our country should treat them as guests, not criminal suspects. “ID cards for foreigners” is not just a small-minded slogan — Britain will suffer culturally and economically.

Click here!PHIL BOOTH coordinator, GUY HERBERT general secretary, NO2ID Crawford Street, London W1