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Project description

Thom Brooks’ research has influenced and contributed to public debate around citizenship and migration.

Primary participants

About the research

Thom Brooks is an award-winning author, broadcaster and senior policy advisor with wide-ranging expertise in British immigration law and policy.

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More about the research

Thom is a frequent media commentator on immigration issues and the leading expert on Britain’s Life in the UK citizenship test. His landmark books include Becoming British: UK Citizenship Examined published by Biteback. In recent years, Thom has campaigned for:

The 'Life in the UK' Citizenship test: A 'bad pub quiz'

  • The new test removes information available previously about the NHS, educational qualifications and what subjects are taught in schools, how to report a crime or contact an ambulance.
  • The test no longer requires citizens to know the number of MPs in Westminster, but continues to require knowledge of the number of members in the Welsh government, Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • The test includes facts that are purely trivial, such as the following dates in the life of Sake Dean Mahomet: birth (1759), first came to UK (1782), eloped to Ireland (1786), opened first curry house (1810), and death (1851). 
  • Gender Imbalance. The historical chapter gives dates of birth for 29 men, but only 4 women. Neither of the Queen’s birthdays are included. No women artists, musicians or poets receive any mention. The Home Office announcement of the new test celebrated the inclusion of artistic and cultural heritage in the test by naming 9 men. No women were mentioned.
  • Already Outdated. Some information is already outdated. The handbook states that former PM Margaret Thatcher is alive although she died about a fortnight after its publication.

Reducing net migration does not reduce migration impact

The Government is committed to reducing net migration to 100,000 or less. The use of net migration as a target is a mistake. Net migration is a composite statistic taking together all migration entering or leaving the UK, including British citizens and international students. Reducing net migration can be achieved without decreasing migration-related impact. The Government should focus more on impact instead of numbers – ending net migration as a ‘target’ and move towards more specific, and achievable, targets.

Migration Impacts Reduction Fund

Thom has argued that urgent funding is required to help reduce the impact of migration on public services. Previously a fund distributed about £70m over two years, but it was scrapped by the coalition government after the 2010 general election. The pressures on public services from migration-related impact have continued, but without funding support.

The Citizenship Advisory Group

Over the last 10 years, immigration law and policy has undergone significant changes. Over 1 million have sat the Life in the UK citizenship test. Thousands have participated in citizenship ceremonies across the country. Home Office guidance for assessing visa and naturalisation applications have been revolutionised. But there has not been any review of procedures or consultation with naturalised British citizens to ensure immigration policy is fit for purpose. A Citizenship Advisory Group is urgently needed to review policy and procedures engaged in public discussion to improve regulations and build public confidence.

Further information

Briefing Papers

Migration Impacts Reduction Fund

Urgent funding is required to help reduce the impact of migration on public services. There was a Migrant Impacts Fund launched in 2009 to provide new funding support to local communities that needed it most financed by a levy on immigration application fees. The Fund distributed about £70m over two years, but it was scrapped within months by the coalition government after the 2010 general election.

View the briefing: Migration Impacts Reduction Fund 

The Life in the UK citizenship test: Is it unfit for purpose?

You can view a short briefing on the arguments for reform of the citizenship test: The Life in the UK citizenship test

The purpose of the briefing is to give the reader a flavour of Thom Brook's research in this area. We hope that by presenting our research in an accessible and eye-catching way to disseminate it to the widest possible audience, including policymakers, members of the legal profession, external groups (including NGOs) and other academics.

You can read the full 'Life in the United Kingdom Citizenship Test: Is It Unfit for Purpose?' report here.

You can read 'A Practical Guide to Living in the United Kingdom: A Report' here.

Immigration law and policy

You can view a short briefing on the arguments on an immigration policy in an independent Scotland: Immigration law and policy in an independent Scotland

What might happen at the border if Scotland voted for independence? Pro-Unionists claimed border controls would be inevitable because migration rules would differ. Anti-Unionists agreed the immigration rules in an independent Scotland would change. However, they denied no border controls would become necessary when joining the Common Travel Area (CTA) with the UK and Ire-land.