LONDON — Britain’s government is unlikely to change its policy towards European Union migration post-Brexit because the country depends too much on EU workers, according to policy think tank IPPR.
“It is highly likely that Britain’s immigration policy will change post-Brexit,” said Marley Morris, Senior Research Fellow at IPPR. “IPPR research shows that some sectors in the UK economy are now highly reliant on EU nationals in lower-skilled jobs.
“Britain’s low unemployment and inactivity rate and the geographical spread of jobseekers means it is difficult to see British workers easily taking up these roles.”
Prime Minister May is expected to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday around lunchtime. She 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.
However, if the government does heavily restrict EU migration, several industries vital to the UK economy could be hit with massive worker shortages. This would hurt the consumer, as it could cause either shortages or price rises.
For instance, Britain’s service industry accounts for nearly 80% of total UK GDP and IPPR illustrated across two charts how the bulk of the service sector relies on EU workers and low-skilled EU migrants to fill jobs.
This table below shows the jobs that are most reliant on EU nationals:
And this table shows the sectors that most reliant on lower-skilled EU nationals, who fill a lot of jobs that Britons do not want:
“Even if the rights of EU nationals already in the UK are guaranteed, workforce turnover could mean labour shortages quickly become apparent in some sectors. Any shortages could push up the prices of everyday goods and services,” said the IPPR in a statement.
Brexit Minister David Davis this week admitted that any cap on EU migration post-Brexit would likely be fluid, changing regularly to meet the demand for EU workers needed in Britain.
Morris said: “Government needs to work with industry to develop a much clearer plan to move towards a high-pay, high-productivity economy. Over time this should reduce the need for this kind of lower skilled and often very low paid labour.”
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