Towards consensus? Centre-right parties and immigration policy in the UK and Ireland

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Series Details Vol.15, No.3, April 2008, p415-431
Publication Date April 2008
ISSN 1350-1763
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The UK has long experience of immigration; Ireland until very recently was a country of emigration. Over the past decade both states have opened their borders to large numbers of economic migrants, notably from the new EU member states. In both states, the major political parties have broadly welcomed globalization and the benefits it can bring, and it is hard to discern a distinctive centre-right approach. Traditionally, the Conservatives have been seen as tougher on immigration than Labour in the UK, yet there has been little difference in practice between the two parties' policies in government. In Ireland, Fine Gael has primarily criticized the way the government implements its policies rather than showing any fundamental difference over substance. This article considers the changing patterns of migration, how these have affected discourse and policy in the UK and Ireland, and looks at why there is not a distinct centre-right approach in either state.

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