Former minister George Eustice today launched a stinging attack on the Government’s post-Brexit immigration plans, warning that they risk leaving worker shortages in key parts of the economy.
Conservative MP Mr Eustice, who quit recently as farming minister, argued that the Home Office should focus more on ensuring Britain has enough workers prepared to do hard graft in “so-called low-skilled” jobs, rather than its policy of seeking to attract the “brightest and the best”.
The Leave campaigner also called for the current Migration Advisory Committee to be axed and replaced with a panel including more members with a stronger business background, rather than being so heavily made up of senior economists.
“Think of the waitress who served you coffee today, the cleaners working late tonight, the care worker who will help your grandmother start the day tomorrow or the farm worker who has been out in the rain to put fresh vegetables on your table. Do we value these people and the work they do?” he writes in the Standard today.
“We should, but the message from the Home Office is it doesn’t.
“It envisages a post-Brexit immigration policy where so-called low-skilled people, who have fewer formal qualifications and are on lower incomes, will not be allowed into our country. Instead the Home Office types only want the ‘brightest and the best’, people like them who went to university and are on a big salary.”
Highlighting Britain’s high employment rate and recruitment difficulties in some sectors, he added: “We have no shortage of under-employed graduates. What we lack is enough people willing to do hard graft, and any coherent policy must recognise this.”
Mr Eustice, MP for Camborne and Redruth, urged Home Secretary Sajid Javid to swiftly convert a planned pilot on a seasonal agriculture workers’ scheme into a “fully-fledged” one.
“We successfully ran a scheme from 1945 to 2013, so what’s the point of a pilot?” he stressed.
“Finally, the Government must make clear that when we leave the EU and free movement ends, we will open up an appropriate provision for Tier 3 work permits for lower-skilled and lower-income occupations.”
Business chiefs are already warning of recruitment difficulties in the food production sector and in hospitality.