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The Prime Minister’s immigration speech was pragmatic not populist, rightly showing clear blue water with UKIP’s anti-immigration agenda. Two important arguments were made. First, he argued strongly and passionately that immigration has been largely beneficial for Britain both economically and culturally. Second, he has recognised – after the failure to achieve the net migration target – that it is important to make promises on immigration that he can keep.  Changing the EU principle of the free movement of people is not possible or desirable, and so he rightly committed the UK to this principle.

The debate on immigration should move away from figures to fairness. The majority of people in this country believe that fairness is about being rewarded when you have contributed. There is popular support for Cameron’s commitment to making EU migrants wait some years until they have contributed before they can claim benefits. We can and should go further in making our welfare system more contributory. Today, Bright Blue launches its new report, Give and take: how conservatives think about welfare. One of our policy recommendations is to give more money through a Contribution Supplement in Universal Credit to those claimants who have worked for longer and have longer National Insurance records. To assure the public that our immigration and welfare systems are effective and fair, we should be recognising contribution in them a lot more.

Ryan Shorthouse is the Director of Bright Blue