LONDON (Reuters) - The British government set out its biggest overhaul of immigration in decades on Wednesday, publishing a long-awaited policy paper on how it intends to approach the issue after it leaves the European Union.
Below are reactions to the plan from politicians and business and industry groups:
“It makes absolutely no sense for the government to come forward with a one-size-fits-all policy for the whole country that simply won’t work for London.
“Slamming the door shut on thousands of European workers who want to come here to fill crucial roles, while making it tougher for businesses and the NHS to access the talent they need, will damage our competitiveness and ultimately mean less opportunity for all Londoners.”
CATHERINE MCGUINNESS, POLICY CHAIR, CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION
“The decision to scrap the cap on the number of skilled workers who can enter the UK is a positive signal that Global Britain is open to global talent.”
“It is vital that firms of all sizes ...across London and the UK can employ the people they need at all skill levels. This means developing local talent as well as attracting international skills where required.”
“The UK Government’s immigration blueprint is an act of vandalism on Scotland’s economy, communities, NHS and public services. Yet again, they are intent on imposing disastrous policies on Scotland with no consultation with the Scottish Government, despite our repeated attempts to engage.”
JOSH HARDIE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL, CBI
“The proposals outlined .... don’t meet the UK’s needs and would be a sucker punch for many firms right across the country.
“The Government cannot indulge in selective hearing. It tunes in to business evidence on a disastrous Brexit no deal, but tunes out from the economic damage of draconian blocks on access to vital overseas workers.”
ADAM MARSHALL, DIRECTOR GENERAL, BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
“While these proposals are not quite as bad as we had originally feared, it’s no secret that companies across the UK are sceptical about whether the government’s approach will actually deliver on their practical, real-world concerns.
“Employers are hugely concerned that the complexity and cost associated with new immigration rules will impact their ability to invest and grow ... The immigration system must not leave UK businesses with their hands tied – or the government will cause active damage to jobs, communities, investment and the economy.”
“There is both an absolute shortage of people available, which can’t be met by the domestic workforce, and specific gaps in areas that companies need to keep up with global competition.
“The economy faces many challenges... and none of them will be easier to address if we pull up the drawbridge. Trying to compete in an increasingly fractious global economy with an overly restrictive migration policy is like trying to run a marathon with your shoelaces tied together.”
“The government has not listened to business with these proposals. Pushing ahead with an ideological decision to cut immigration will be hugely detrimental to the economy and severely damage the hospitality sector across the UK. The reality is that we need EU workers in our venues to support our homegrown teams and keep the sector growing.”
BRIAN BERRY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, FEDERATION OF MASTER BUILDERS
“The Government seems hell-bent on ignoring the business community when it comes to its immigration policy ... If the government wants to jeopardise the UK economy for the sake of meeting an arbitrary immigration target, it’s going the right way about it.
“The government describes the construction and house building sectors as strategic and central to delivering its own aims. However, the plans set out today would make it impossible to meet the government’s house-building targets and the world-class infrastructure projects we have in the pipeline will be nothing but a pipedream.”
HELEN DICKINSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM
“The government’s proposals on immigration would see retailers face rising hiring costs for new workers, putting pressure on the price of goods and services for consumers.
“...An accessible lower-skilled route is critical to the future success of the industry and the people it serves.”
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by John Stonestreet