Making the Migration State: The History of Britain’s Immigration Policy

  • Erica Consterdine


This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of Britain’s immigration policy from 1948 until 2010. Britain was once known as a country of ‘zero immigration’ (Freeman, Commentary. In W. Cornelius, T. Tsuda, P. Martin, & J. Hollifield (Eds.), Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective (pp. 297–303). Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994) and given that the majority of Britain’s post-war restrictive measures were targeted at non-white immigrants, many scholars contend that Britain’s immigration regime was underpinned by a racialised discourse (Paul, Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the POSTWAR Era. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997; Saggar, Race and Politics in Britain. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992; Spencer, The Migration Debate. Bristol: Policy Press, 2011; Hampshire, Citizenship and Belonging. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). In stark contrast to Britain’s past record, the Labour governments of 1997 to 2010 pursued an expansionary economic immigration policy. The chapter builds a narrative of British immigration policy from 1948 until 2010 and serves to demonstrate the unprecedented shift under the Labour governments in comparison to Britain’s post-war restrictive framing.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica Consterdine
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics and Sussex Centre for Migration ResearchUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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