CBI report challenges UK Government to clarify Brexit stance on migration after Brexit


On August 10, 2018, the Confederation of British Industry published a report and recommendations into the post-Brexit immigration and employment requirements.

Their starting position is that they primarily represent of their members’ interests.  They have, however, in this case taken a wider view and collated information from other industry bodies and incorporated the work of the UK Government undertaken by the Migration Advisory Commission.

Further, the they have spelled out the consequences for every UK citizen and business for decades to come if the outcome of Brexit negotiations and working arrangements are found wanting in any respect.

Migration and citizens right to travel and work is a core issue that Brexit Partners have followed closely and built into our preparation models for Brexit – now just 8 months away.

We previously reported on the work and outcomes of the Migration Advisory Committee – whose full report has recently been published.  MAC has clearly set out the potential impacts across the UK economy – with detailed analyses by industry sector.  These have been unpublished until now as the UK Brexit negotiating team did not wish to “reveal its hand”.

We have also noted the concerns expressed by the Parliamentary Select Committee on 23 July 2018 regarding the lack of clarity on EU citizens rights to travel and work in the UK, and UK citizens rights to travel and work across Europe [see Our Insight].

The CBI is to be commended for entering the fray and attempting to raise the level of discussions.  Indeed, given the conclusion that they have drawn from feedback from individuals and bodies spanning over 120,000 British businesses is that firms need all of 2 years from the end of the Brexit discussion process - and the certainty that this should finally bring – in order to prepare new working practices and procedures.  Given that the odds of a ‘cliff-edge’ no-deal Brexit in 8 months time are rising and even the most optimistic transition period - ending in December 2020 - is close to the two-year requirement, they had a duty to members to call this out.

If this report alerts and stimulates those in charge of the Brexit process of both the stakes, and the need to pick up the pace of discussions.  We would rather have an open debate than the moratorium through the Summer recess.  In provoking a public response from Brexiteers - albeit an emotional one – this report has served to draw attention to a key issue, unresolved until now.  We note the official response that proposals for migration and the employment of non-UK citizens will be published in due course.

The 40 page report draws together feedback from round table discussions and interviews - together with analysis from complementary organisations and the UK Government sponsored Migration Advisory Commission (which in itself comprises 170 pages of analysis across 20 Industry Sectors).  The summary recommendations are quoted in full at the end of this article.

If your business needs further detail, interpretation or guidance as to its optimum Brexit response contact us today.

For completeness, we quote the CBI report Summary and recommendations

Build public trust in the UK’s immigration system by shifting away from controlling numbers to assessing contribution and by investing in local public services where demand has been increased by migration:

1.   Drop the net migration target and replace it with a system that increases control by ensuring that people coming to the UK make a positive contribution to the economy

2.   Reform the Controlling Migration Fund so that local schools and hospitals receive extra funding where demand is increased by immigration  

 Reform the UK’s non-EU immigration system so that firms can better access people and skills from around the world, not just the EU:

3.   Simplify the process for obtaining a visa so that it is manageable for small companies, by making it easier to become a licensed sponsor or by removing the requirement altogether

4.   Reform the Tier 2 visa route so that employers can access the range of skills that they need, not only graduates earning £30,000 or more

5.   Scrap the Tier 2 visa cap to give businesses the certainty that workers will get a visa if they meet the Points Based criteria

 Recognise the strong links between people and trade as the UK forges new economic relationships on the world stage:

6.   Negotiate the simplest possible travel arrangements for all British and European citizens to avoid lengthy border delays at sea and air ports after Brexit

7.   Preserve easy mobility of staff in our new relationship with the EU, including intra-company transfers, temporary postings and temporary business visits

8.   Ensure that both mobility and migration are an integral part of all future trade deals that the UK negotiates with other parts of the world, starting with the EU

 Replace free movement with a new open and controlled immigration system for EU citizens:

9.   Establish a new system for EU immigration because extending the current non-EU immigration system would be entirely unworkable for business

10.   Introduce compulsory registration for EU citizens soon after arrival in the UK

11.   Restrict EU citizens’ ability to stay to three months unless they can prove that they are working, studying or are self-sufficient

12.   Secure through negotiation with the EU a new test linked to local labour market conditions, such as unemployment rates for specified professions, which would trigger prioritisation of local recruitment

13.   Reinstate controls on access to in-work benefits agreed between the UK and the EU prior to the referendum

14.   Continue to exempt EU workers from the Immigration Health Surcharge and the Immigration Skills Charge.

 Ensure that the transition to any new migration system is done with respect for people and in an orderly manner:

15.   Legally guarantee the rights of EU citizens already in the UK, as set out in the draft Withdrawal Agreement, even in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario

16.   Shift the tone of the debate around immigration to focus on the positive benefits and send a signal that the UK is open for business and an attractive place to study, work and build a career

17.   Ensure businesses have at least two years to adapt to any new immigration system, from the point at which new rules are known and formally agreed

John ShuttleworthComment