The coming Qatarization of Britain

There’s a crucial point approaching in the possible Qatarization of Britain later this month, if and when UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks are concluded to satisfaction of both sides.

I wrote about Qatarization back in 2020; in that piece I wrote about the lie at the heart of the then Patel narrative on skilled-only immigration, and how the policy detail even of that time was pointing towards a massive expansion of WTO mode 4 temporary worker visas.

There was, I wrote, an emergent plan — not least with the UK-India FTA - to allow Indian multinationals to based workers in the UK but have them here under much worse terms and conditions, with all disposable income repatriated to support families back home.

But that was before the real emergence of the Truss-Kwarteng plan for large ‘investment zone’ enclaves in the UK, with planning reform designed, not uncoincidentally, in ways which allow big firms to put migrant workers in barrack-like accommodation, and charge them for it.

Think exploitation of caravan-dwelling pickers, but on an industrial scale & for industrial purpose, and resolving the problem the big firms had with matching very low pay with the need to give low paid workers a place they can survive. See also the Soviet Union circa 1955 for details.

Will it happen exactly like that? I’m not sure, because the FTA may still have a way to go in terms of India’s demands [1]*, but the Qatarization of Britain seems, with remorseless logic, to be replacing the idea of Singapore-on-Thames.

That is what these Investment Zones, and perhpas even Charter City-style governance moves, point to.

Note

[1] These terms are not likely to be about how ‘liberalization’ required under the FTA will affect the rural poor. The Modhi government doesn’t care about that.

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Paul Cotterill

Secretary General, Habermasian Labour (UK). Indefatigably focused on the promotion of ethical discourse in the public sphere, except when there's cricket.