Britain's post-Brexit EU immigration cap is going to constantly change because the economy depends on migrants

LONDON — Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted on TV that Britain’s cap on migrants from the European Union post-Brexit is going to constantly increase or decrease, depending on when the government sees fit.

Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday and thereby start the formal two-year Brexit negotiation process. May is taking Britain towards a “hard Brexit” — shorthand for Britain leaving the European Union without access to the Single Market in exchange for having full control over immigration into the country.

But according to Davis on BBC TV’s Question Time programme, while the government will cut net migration to the “tens of thousands,” immigration will not stay that low forever.

“From time to time we’ll need more, from time to time we’ll need fewer migrants. The simple truth is that we have to manage this problem. You’ve got industry dependent on migrants, you’ve got social welfare, the National Health Service — you have to make sure they continue to work,” said Davis.

Davis’ comments follow a Business Insider interview with a business immigration lawyer who stated that May is unlikely to pursue the most “hard-line” immigration proposals that have been touted for European nationals after Brexit as they would have “catastrophic consequences.”

Adam Williams, a partner and specialist business immigration lawyer at law firm DMH Stallard said: “There are certain sectors which are heavily reliant on labour from the EEA — construction and care are a good example — where it just doesn’t make sense for the government to take a hard line because it would have a very, very negative impact on those sectors.”

Across the UK, EEA immigrants make up 10% of registered doctors and 4% of registered nurses, but that number is falling dramatically. The number of EU nationals registering as nurses in England has dropped by 92% since the Brexit vote referendum in June, and a record number are also quitting.

My colleague Oscar Williams-Grut also pointed out this week that a slowdown in EU migrants looking for work in the UK could create serious problems for the economy.

44.3% of all new jobs created in the economy since 2008 were filled by people born in another EU country, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Much of this is down to workers from recession-hit countries Spain and Greece coming to the UK to fill jobs that Brits do not want. Sandwich chain Pret A Manger recently revealed that only one in five applicants for its jobs are UK-born.

According to jobs website Indeed on Monday, the number of people in the European Union looking for jobs in Britain since the start of the year has fallen at a faster rate than in the immediate aftermath of last year’s Brexit vote.

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