Responding to today’s announcement on immigration policy, Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“Over two years after the vote to leave European Union, business is still largely in the dark about what the UK’s new immigration systems will look like. While the political reality may be that free movement will end, let’s not forget that it brought considerable benefits for business and citizens alike, and the simple fact is that getting rid of it will have an economic cost.
“So when negotiating our future relationship with the EU, it’s vital that the UK remembers the central role people play in trade. 62% of IoD members say it’s important to their business that we get a reciprocal preferential arrangement on movement of labour with the EU. This is not unusual when negotiating an economic arrangement with close neighbours, such as the Nordic passport union and the trade accord between Australia and New Zealand.
“While it’s welcome to hear the Home Secretary say that he believes immigration has been good for the UK, the Government is still stubbornly sticking to the discredited net migration target. Unless they ditch this counterproductive target, it will become an albatross around the neck of the Conservative party, reminding them of past failure and preventing them from moving on to design a sensible immigration policy based on what the country needs.
“The division between and high and low-skilled misses an important point. Sectors like agriculture, retail, hospitality and construction rely heavily on so-called ‘low-skilled’ workers, in part because domestic workers want to work in other sectors, and in part because unemployment is at a record low. The UK needs a balanced migration policy which takes account of skills at all levels, a single-minded focus on reducing numbers would be cutting off our nose to spite our face.”