Here is the shipping forecast. The skies are blue, the weather’s getting better, the temperature is rising, and with it so is the number of ramshackle, unseaworthy vessels packed with desperate people trying to cross dangerous waters in search of better life in Europe. Some will reach the shores of the promised land but then find that milk and honey is in increasingly short supply in an era of populism and jobs lost to automation. Others will die along the way.

This scenario is destined to play out every year for the foreseeable future, and to play into calls for the walls of Fortress Europe to be built higher and higher. Across the continent many of our policymakers are caught in the democratic system’s electoral cycle. On the one hand many accept the argument that Europe’s low population growth means we need mass immigration to pay for the pensions and healthcare of elderly populations. Yet when faced with opinion polls hostile to such a policy, and with an election coming up, many tack to the prevailing political wind. However, as argued further below, mass immigration may not be necessary.