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Policy Exchange says population register would allay Brexit-related fears that Britain is an ‘economic transit camp’

Policy Exchange says population register would allay Brexit-related fears that Britain is an ‘economic transit camp’

British people should be given a “unique person number” to help the government keep track of the population following the vote for Brexit, according to a new report by a leading thinktank.

The paper from Policy Exchange said people feel Britain is being used as an “economic transit camp” and these fears could be allayed by creating a “population register”.
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The controversial idea is likely to be met with opposition from civil liberties campaigners who stopped the Blair government bringing in ID cards. But the report said the numbers would not mean people carrying cards, but would help to distinguish between full and temporary citizens.

David Goodhart, the author of the report, said: “Roughly 2 million people arrive in the UK on visas every year and too many are overstaying. We have to urgently address the resentment that people feel about the fact that some migrants use Britain as a sort of economic transit camp.

“The government needs to get a grip on who is coming into Britain, where they are living and what public services they are accessing. A British population register which differentiates between full and temporary citizens will help the government concentrate rights, benefits and integration efforts on those who are making a full commitment to the country.”

Policy Exchange, which was founded by the former Conservative ministers Michael Gove and Nick Boles in 2002, is considered an independent thinktank on the centre-right and has been addressed by leading Labour politicians as well as Conservative leaders over the years.

The paper says the databases of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HMRC and the Home Office do not share information, meaning most people have several unique identifiers, such as an NHS number, National Insurance number and passport number.

It claimed a unique person number stored in a central register would give the government a much more informed picture of migration flows.

Goodhart argues that temporary citizens on visas such as students and short-term migrant workers – who currently account for two-thirds of the annual inflow into Britain – would not have full access to social and political rights, would not have an automatic right to bring in dependents and would leave after a specific period of time.

He also suggested EU citizens who have been living in Britain for more than five years should be offered a special cut-price ‘Brexit citizenship’ and EU citizens should have to get work permits to come to the UK after leaving the EU.

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