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Labour shortages feared over Brexit

23 December 20190 comments

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to introduce a new system for immigration after Brexit could cause a shortage of skilled labour, Britain’s peak employers group has warned.

More than 70 per cent of 304 businesses surveyed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said reduced access to skilled workers was the biggest threat to the country’s labour market.

And more than half of the companies said they would be hurt if immigration policy were not simplified.

Mr Johnson has proposed an Australian-style, points-based system for deciding who can come into Britain to work after Brexit with people of “exceptional talent” being fast-tracked into the country.

“It’s clear what’s weighing on businesses minds is uncertainty about the new immigration system,” a CBI spokesman said.

“Whatever the final shape, it needs to be simple from its first day of introduction.”

Net migration by EU citizens to Britain dropped to 48,000 in the 12 months to June, it’s lowest since the start of quarterly records in 2009, according to official data published last month.

A Home Office spokesman said: “As we end free movement, the new system will allow us to decide who comes to this country on the basis of the skills they have and the contribution they can make – not where they come from.”

The CBI said 65 per cent of respondents in its survey believed Britain’s labour market had become a less attractive place in which to invest and do business over the past five years, the highest proportion since the survey began 22 years ago.

The survey also found weaker hiring expectations than in 2017 and 2018.

The CBI survey was conducted between August and October and canvased companies who employ 830,000 people.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has been condemned for dropping a pledge to replace family reunion laws with British lawyers warning a loss of reunion rights for unaccompanied refugee children will put them in danger.

The loss of family reunion rights for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children will leave them with “no options” except taking dangerous routes and using smugglers, charities in France and Greece are warning.

Mr Johnson faced criticism after he told parliament he had dropped a promise to replace the EU law that allows child refugees stranded in Europe to reunite with family members in the UK after Brexit.