Hospitality and tourism leaders are urgently seeking a meeting with Brexit Secretary David Davis to hammer out an EU migration plan following Mr Davis’ “heartening” comments this week that the UK would keep its door open for service workers in hospitality, agriculture and social care.
In a letter to Mr Davis, the British Hospitality Association, the leading tourism body, said it would welcome the opportunity to help shape the UK’s new immigration law. It was reassured by Mr Davis’ recognition that it would take “years and years” to get British workers ready to fill jobs done by European migrants.
The chief executive of the BHA, Ufi Ibrahim, said today: “We are delighted that Mr Davis has listened to the realistic and clear arguments we have made that it will take time to replace the 700,000 EU workers who work in our industry, the UK’s fourth largest. We want to now have a serious dialogue with the Government as we get into the nitty gritty of a new immigration law.
“We think that in the interests of maintaining our strong economy, which Mr Davis recognises is dependent on service workers from the EU, there needs to be a rigorous evidence-based approach to immigration. We suggest that this would be best done by expanding the role of the Migration Advisory Committee, which up till now has dealt with matters outside the EU.
Ms Ibrahim continued: “We also need to ensure that any new law is not overly bureaucratic or costly as 80 per cent of the 200,000 businesses in the hospitality sector are SMEs employing less than 10 people. Many of these businesses are already just about managing, and increased costs could put them over the edge.
She said: “We are determined to rely less on EU service workers over the coming years but it will take time, as Mr Davis has recognised. This is why we have already urged the government to consider a phased approach. We at the BHA will be focusing our efforts on promoting hospitality as a rewarding and exciting career to UK workers.”