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View from the Assembly: Brexit stance creating a ‘perfect storm’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 May 2018

Archant

The country is divided - not just the ‘Laurel or Yanni’ debate - but by a different ‘Laurel’: ‘another fine mess’ the Laurel and Hardy Conservative Party has ‘got us into’, over Brexit.

The prime minister asking the Conservative Party factions to come up with their solution for post Brexit trade (even though the EU has already said both options are unacceptable) is about as likely to produce a formula to reunite her divided and split cabinet as it would be to ask two ancient alchemists to produce formulas to turn base metal into gold.

We now have to rely on another ancient institution, the House of Lords, for a reality check. The commons should consider positively the 14 defeats their lordships inflicted on the government, from the Customs Union and the European Economic Area; to employment, consumer and environmental rights; to limits on ministerial power to change primary legislation; to Northern Ireland; to providing a meaningful role for parliament at the end of the negotiations. All these major concerns together with other even more complex points raised by the Lords are the detail which the Brexiteers mendaciously pretend do not exist.

Time is rapidly running out: two years on the government has failed to produce clear policies. Our economy cannot be based on ‘it’ll be alright on the night’. Businesses need certainty to invest.

London’s economy and services face a double whammy not just from Brexit dithering but the government’s migration policy too.

Their scandalous behaviour towards the Windrush Generation, people that have legally lived and worked here for decades, again demonstrates the consequences of the Conservative’s hostility to migrants.

Due to their obsession with their artificial cap on numbers, bearing no relation to the economic needs of London or the country, the government are misleading businesses by claiming they can access talent from non-EU countries not just post Brexit, but even now.

The cap on non-EU skilled workers reached its limit for the fourth month in a row in March: 6,000 skilled staff were refused visas, including 1,518 doctors. Businesses wanting to bring non-EU workers to the UK for most jobs now have to show salaries of more than £60,000.

A staggering 600,000 London jobs are carried out by EU-born workers, especially in the hospitality, construction and tech sectors, where one in four start-ups were co-founded by EU migrants. However, the Conservative government’s hostility to migrants threatens us with the loss of these existing skilled EU workers even before Brexit, never mind afterwards, as they see the writing on the wall in the expected requirement to register their residency: if the government can treat the long standing Commonwealth Windrush migrants so badly, what can EU nationals expect in the future?

We now have a perfect storm: EU nationals leaving London or not coming, and skilled non-EU workers refused entry, so businesses and services cannot recruit their staff: from IT experts and engineers to doctors and teachers. The government is cutting off London’s nose to spite our face.

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