Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking to the Confederation of British Industry

Mayor sets out positive case for immigration

11 October 2017

Qualified freedom of movement is the best way to protect economic prosperity in London and the UK in the aftermath of Brexit, Mayor Sadiq Khan said today.

In a speech to business leaders at the Confederation of British Industry, Sadiq said successive governments had failed to make the positive case for immigration.

Companies and jobs depend on maintaining barrier-free access to the dynamic European workforce, he said.

“It’s time for us to stand up and make the case for the freedom of movement of people and the benefits it has brought to our economy,” the Mayor told the CBI.

“Of course, we need a robust, managed immigration system and secure borders. But we also need a system that makes it easier - not harder - to bring in the people from around the world who can help grow our prosperity and create more wealth, jobs and opportunities,” he said.

“Immigration brings new skills and innovation to our shores.”

As well as providing a “cast-iron” guarantee that EU nationals are welcome to stay in the UK, the Mayor’s migration plan calls for the government to negotiate a long-term agreement based on remaining part of the Single Market.

It also calls for international students to be removed from the annual migration target and for the non-EU visa system to be reformed. International students in the UK should be given the chance to work after graduation for 12-24 months, it states.

Some 33,000 more EU citizens left the UK over the 12 months to March 2017 compared with the year before, according to the Office for National Statistics, posing a major concern for business.

“Government must send a positive signal now, unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens already living and working here and responding to the plans already put on the table by business to keep our doors open to the people we need,” Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group London First, said.