Don’t Brexit bargain with London’s EU workers

28 February 2017

12 per cent of London’s population are from EU countries, compared to four per cent in the whole of the UK.[2]

Around 13 per cent of the five million jobs in London – 600,000 jobs – are held by workers born in EU countries.[3]

Certain sectors in London are especially reliant on EU workers:

  • Accommodation and food services sector – roughly a third of employees (79,000) born in EU countries.[4]
  • Construction sector – around a quarter (88,000) of all workers are EU-born.[5]
  • The NHS – roughly one tenth (60,000) of NHS workers in London are from the EU.[6]
  • Tech sector – around a third of those working in London’s tech industry are EU nationals.[7]

The London Assembly Economy Committee publishes its report ‘EU migration’ today. The Committee sets out the risks and opportunities that might come from changes to immigration policy post-Brexit and makes a number of robust calls:

  • EU nationals living and working in London should be guaranteed the right to stay in the UK urgently and should not be used as a bargaining chip in the Government’s Brexit negotiations.
  • The process of identifying and registering EU nationals must be as simple as possible and the cost to remain in the UK should be fair and proportionate.
  • A fast-track visa system for highly-skilled EU workers is critical and a new immigration system could be based on skills rather than on job offers to attract entrepreneurs.
  • Given London’s reliance on EU workers, any new immigration system should be flexible and responsive to London’s needs.

Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: 

London relies on EU workers like no other region. EU workers are the life blood of the capital’s economy – they build vital homes, care for the sick and elderly and provide food and accommodation services.

It is vital that a new immigration system is fair and simple – and without a transitional period, the risk to London and the UK’s economic dynamism will be severe.

The referendum result has caused a great deal of uncertainty, for residents, workers and businesses. Sectors, like health, construction and hospitality should not be pushed to the cliff edge, due to their reliance on EU workers.

We need to give EU workers the right to remain within the UK and we categorically need assurances now.

Follow us @LondonAssembly and take part in the discussion using #AssemblyEconomy and #EUExit

Notes to editors

  1. ‘EU migration’ report attached.
  2. Population in the UK by nationality, Annual Population Survey 2015, ONS
  3. Number of jobs by country of birth of job holder, Annual Population Survey 2015, ONS
  4. Annual Population Survey 2015, ONS
  5. Annual Population Survey 2015, ONS
  6. English Health Service’s Electronic Staff Record
  7. London tech heavyweights call for European talent to remain in the capital following Brexit vote, City AM (1 July 2016)
  8. Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the London Assembly Economy Committee, is available for interview. Please see contact details below.
  9. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.


For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

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