Here's why Amber Rudd's "barista visa" is a load of hot air

If the Tories want Brexit to succeed, they'll need to start being a lot nicer to immigrants. 

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Amber Rudd has a new wheeze to keep the flow of young workers that Britains’ ageing population needs to keep its shops, care homes, bars and so on open and the economy ticking over – a so-called “barista visa”.

Under the scheme, the Sun reveals, people from the European Union will be able to come to Britain for two years to work in hospitality, retail and other similar industries – but they won’t be able to claim benefits or to stay longer than two years.

It’s modeled after the “youth mobility scheme”, which is open to 18 to 30 year olds from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.  To qualify, people who come to Britain under the scheme need £1,890 in savings.

It’s not a particularly attractive offer, is it? Come to Britain to work in a coffee shop. If you get promoted? You can’t stay. If you fall in love? You can’t stay. If you set up a new business or establish yourself as a writer while working at a coffee shop? You can’t stay.  Small wonder that the scheme attracted just 42,000 last year – from countries with a combined population of around 350m.

And keeping Britain attractive to people who want to come and make a life here matters. Britain has close to full employment and an ageing population. Neither its job market, nor the needs of its elderly, can met through the indigenous population alone. Whatever post-Brexit immigration policy it has, it will have be attractive enough to draw in equivalent numbers of immigrants from around the world that come to Britain today. To keep attracting close to the 286,000 who came to Britain from elsewhere in the European Union in 2016, that regime is going to have to either be as attractive to people living in the European Union as the existing one or the barriers to migration from the rest of the world will have to be a hell of a lot lower.

It shouldn’t be revelatory to say this, but apparently it is: you can’t persuade people to come here if you are also trying to get those same people to leave. For Britain to thrive after Brexit, we’re going to have to start being a lot nicer to immigrants.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.