Brexiteer calls for simpler EU visas

One of the most outspoken advocates of Brexit - including supporting the end of freedom of movement - is now calling on the government to introduce relaxed visa requirements for EU workers.

Tim Martin, the founder of the Wetherspoons chain that now boasts 814 pubs across the country, says the hospitality trade is facing such a dire shortage of workers as the pandemic lockdown is relaxed, that action needs to be taken to make it easier for lower-skilled EU workers to relocate to the UK. UKHospitality, the sector's trade body, has estimated there is a shortage of about 188,000 workers, making it harder for the industry to fully reopen.Mr Martin, who toured the country espousing the benefits of a hard Brexit, told the Daily Telegraph: “The UK has a low birth rate. A reasonably liberal immigration system controlled by those we have elected, as distinct from the EU system, would be a plus for the economy and the country.“America, Australia and Singapore have benefited for many decades from this approach. Immigration combined with democracy works.”The exodus of EU workers prompted by Brexit has been exacerbated by the lockdowns in the sector caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which have resulted in thousands of staff returning to their home countries.About a third of workers in the UK hospitality sector were migrants in 2019, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, with the proportion in London being even higher."It is time for the government to review its list of shortage occupations and consider the introduction of an Australian-style visa scheme to enable the workers we need, who don’t meet the point-based system, to come and work here," according to Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.A new analysis by the network of jobs boards, Broadbean Technology, has shown that, last month, vacancies across hospitality and retail continued to rise as the pandemic restrictions eased and indoor dining reopened.Broadbean’s data showed that new jobs posted across the hospitality sector in the first three weeks of May were already 34 per cent higher than in the whole of April.Most worryingly for the industry, the data also showed that, amid the surge in vacancies, there was an 82 per cent, year-on-year decrease in the number of applications in April.Alex Fourlis, managing director at Broadbean Technology, said: “As the re-opening of the UK economy continues, the impact on the labour market has been almost immediate with jobs in hospitality and retail recovering to pre-Covid levels."After a disappointing end to last year, employers in these sectors are bringing people back at work at record pace to match the increased demand."However, the impact of both Brexit and the pandemic on staff availability is continuing to play out as this demand rises. While we expect this jobs growth to continue, we could soon see the gap in supply and demand drive wages up.”

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