London ‘work permits’ are a possibility, says mayor



Khan wants to ensure the capital can retain talent post-Brexit, while the government insists Scotland will not receive any special power over migration

The London mayor’s office is planning to create a London work permit, following concerns that employees and businesses will flee the capital after Britain leaves the EU.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said that a group of business representatives were working on a model to ensure London organisations will continue to be able to recruit and attract talent, he told Sky News recently.

He said: “We are talking to business leaders, businesses [and] business representatives to see what we can do to make sure London doesn’t lose out on the talent, the innovation the partnership that has let us be the greatest city in the world.

“The good news is the government gets it. The good news is in all the conversations I’ve had with members of the government, from the chancellor to the Brexit secretary to the foreign secretary and others in government, I think they get it.”

Khan has discussed plans with chancellor Philip Hammond, Brexit secretary David Davis and foreign secretary Boris Johnson. He will soon meet with prime minister Theresa May to discuss the proposal further. “The government recognises it is in nobody’s interests for us to get a bad deal with the EU,” he added.

Meanwhile, it’s emerged that Scotland will not receive any special power over migration. Separate controls would harm the integrity of the UK system, said immigration minister Robert Goodwill.

He said that applying different immigration rules to different parts of the UK would complicate the immigration system, “harming its integrity, and cause confusion for applicants and difficulties for employers who need the flexibility to deploy their staff to other parts of the UK.”

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that avoiding limits on migration is crucial for Scotland to address the skills gap in its workforce and its ageing population. There are around 173,000 EU citizens living in Scotland, so imposing migration restrictions could result in a rise in skills shortages and a fall in productivity.

Most of the country’s population growth is based on inward migration, said Alasdair Allan, the Scottish government’s Europe minister: “That is why we need the UK government to deliver an immigration system that meets Scotland’s needs because we depend so heavily on new Scots to support our economy and our communities.”

The chancellor has already insisted that skilled professionals, including bankers, will be able to move to the UK from the EU after article 50 is invoked. However, the Migration Advisory Committee is considering a policy that requires low-skilled EU nationals to apply for work permits to stay in the UK.

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