Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson has broken party ranks over immigration, warning that plans to limit the number of migrants to Britain will damage the economy, the Daily Mail reports.
His public remarks, in which he called for a ‘major rethink of government policy’, put him at odds with the Conservative and coalition government party line.
The maverick Mayor’s response to the government’s consultation on imposing a cap on immigration was leaked Thursday night and published by the Daily Mail.
Mr Johnson, who was also lobbying on behalf of the City of London business and banking district, which seeks to attract top talent from around the world to its boardrooms, said, ‘A major rethink of Government policy is required’ as the cap would ‘have a significant negative and disproportionate impact on London’.
It will ‘put the economic recovery at risk by creating skills gaps and placing London at a competitive disadvantage in the global competition for talent and inward investment’, he said.
The coalition government wants to limit the numbers of workers from outside the EU as Britain’s own people are increasingly shut out of the tight jobs market. Net migration to the UK soared by 20 per cent last year to 196,000, despite the recession.
While the government is powerless to block migrants from the EU, it wants to whittle down the number of workers from outside Europe to the tens of thousands.
But Mr Johnson, who has previously called for an amnesty on overstaying immigrants, argued that foreigners made a ‘substantial contribution to [the] UK economy’.
Businesses were ‘unanimous in their opposition and hostile to the proposal’, he added.
‘They warn that the limit will damage small, medium and large businesses, prevent inward investment, talent and trade opportunities coming to London, and thereby materially damage London’s competitiveness,’ he said.
The temporary cap imposed earlier this year was ‘already causing businesses significant recruitment problems’.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Businesses are going to have to reduce their reliance on migrant workers as this has done nothing to help the millions of unemployed.
‘The Government will also introduce measures to support British people.
‘Alongside limits will be action to get Britain back to work and provide business with the skills they need from the resident workforce – reducing the need for migrants at the same time as we reduce their number.’
He went on: ‘This Government believes that Britain can benefit from migration but not uncontrolled migration.
‘I recognise the importance of attracting the brightest and the best to ensure strong economic growth, but unlimited migration places unacceptable pressure on public services.’
This is not the first time that Mr Johnson has been at odds with Mr Cameron. He warned against the bonus tax imposed on bankers by the last government but supported by the Tories.
And, like the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, he has also supported an amnesty on illegal immigrants which he said would add billions to the London economy. Source: Daily Mail.
The financial district is not alone in depending on non-EU migrant workers.
The care industry and NHS would not be able to operate without foreign workers and students filling the vacancies in medical staff, nursing, care, cleaning and catering.
The number of migrant workers and students coming into the UK has already been reduced this year by tweaking the point based system and cutting the shortage occupations list for skilled workers coming in under Tier 2.
This week Prof Metcalf, a leading government adviser and Chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), said that ministers may need to stop workers bringing in their families on dependent visas in order to meet immigration cap targets.
The government has also tightened the Tier 4 student visa rules, which should see a substantial reduction in the numbers of non-EU students coming to the UK in 2010.
Meanwhile skilled workers and fee paying students are flocking to countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: