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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

The UK government yesterday announced much tighter restrictions on people from outside the EU who want to come here to work or study.

At at time when the government is relying on the private sector to drive the recovery as the public sector is cut back, and when the education sector is a particularly important export earner, the government is shooting itself in the foot.

Despite all the talk about Britain being “open for business”, it will become a more closed economy and society.

The new measures also betray a nasty double standard.

David Cameron spent a gap year working for Jardine’s in Hong Kong.

Nick Clegg worked as a ski instructor in Austria (before that country joined the EU in 1995).

Jeremy Hunt spent 2 years in Japan teaching English and learning Japanese.

I doubt someone from outside the EU could now do the equivalent in the UK.

In effect, what ministers are saying is that it’s fine for Brits to spend a year abroad working or studying, but outrageous if foreigners want do the same in the UK.

That’s shameful and wrong.

Posted 24 Nov 2010 in Blog

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