Anti-EU and anti-immigrant rhetoric will ultimately hurt Britain’s businesses, concludes a new report commissioned by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
According to the report, which was produced by London First and the London Enterprise Panel, the capital faces a triple threat. Talented workers and entrepreneurs are being put off coming to a country which increasingly appears to view them with hostility, crackdowns on foreign students are hurting our institutions and finances, and a chronic lack of affordable housing is stifling city growth.
“London has already established a unique position as the global hub for talent, business, finance and global visitors, however this could be put at risk by national policy on both immigration and Europe,” said the Mayor’s report, adding that the city “has an opportunity to establish itself as a global capital for technology, creativity and entrepreneurship.”
“But to gain maximum economic benefit it needs to address the gaps in skills and funding that make it challenging for businesses to grow,” it said.
Better access to post-study visas, stronger relationships with China to attract top talent, fast-tracked systems for high-growth firms to recruit the best overseas workers and a more welcoming attitude were all cited as important priorities to safeguard London’s future.
Meanwhile, the number of homes being built in London should be increased to over 50,000 to prevent both UK and foreign workers from being priced out of the market, it said.
These fears have been echoed by entrepreneur James Dyson, who yesterday penned an open letter to Home Secretary Theresa May in the Guardian, arguing that pushing talented foreign graduates out of the country is creating a brain drain that benefits their home nations far more than it does the UK.
“Dyson is searching for scientists and engineers. But there simply are not enough. Quite simply, there aren’t enough out there,” he wrote, warning that draconian rules would force technology firms overseas, in search of talent.
“Our education system should be a tool to import the world’s greatest minds. And, most importantly, to keep them here, so our economy – and our culture – benefits.”