According to an influential business lobby group, the government must give clarity regarding its policy on future immigration, following reports that it may delay publication of a fundamental policy paper on the said issue.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that businesses would be “frustrated” if the government does not present an indication of what the future policy on migration will be, adding that it will hinder investment.
The deputy director-general of the CBI, Josh Hardie, stated: “Businesses will be hugely frustrated by rumours that the government won’t reveal their plans on staff mobility until the last minute. From tech start-ups to care homes, not knowing what staff you will be able to access will deter investment.
“Firms need time to plan for change, and that is why many will be deeply disappointed by any delays to the White Paper.”
The criticism on the government of the lobby group comes after the reporting of the Financial Times that ministers will not release a white paper on immigration until autumn, just a few months before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in March 2019.
The said paper was originally scheduled to be published last summer. However, reportedly, it has been held up over a dispute regarding the inclusion of students in the figures of net migration. Previously, the Prime Minister has argued that students should remain in the said figures, while Amber Rudd, the current home secretary, believes that they should not be included.
Immigration has been one of the most contentious issues for Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative party for the longest time. When PM May was still home secretary, with a direct responsibility for immigration policy, David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, vowed to cut net annual immigration to under 100,000 migrants.
Controlling immigration was a notable theme in the EU referendum. However, business groups in the City and beyond are horrified at the prospect of making it harder to hire European workers after Brexit at a time when complaints regarding skills shortages have reached high levels.
Today, Hardie urged the government of the United Kingdom to assure EU workers that they will be eligible to work in the United Kingdom “for the transition period at least.”
Hardie stated: “The government should commit now that people’s rights to work won’t change over the first two years from our date of departure from the EU.”