TMuch cheerfully, Tim Martin, president of Wetherspoon and campaigner for a hard Brexit, now wants to facilitate the work of European Union workers in his ubiquitous advertising chain of some 925 establishments. “If only there was a way to do it,” and “Tim Martin is going to be very annoyed with Tim Martin when he finds out,” the quintessentially sardonic remarks say on Twitter. Very funny, but at least a little unfair.
In the 2016 referendum, Martin actually expressed the view that he believed the EU workforce should still be able to move more or less freely to the UK, and does not appear to have had immigration as the main motivation for the UK leaving the EU. ; but of course the exit from the single market made the end of the free movement of workers inevitable. So it has happened, and the loss of this workforce complicates the economic recovery of Covid, the impact of the end of the leave scheme not yet being felt. There will certainly be a period of adjustment; and companies such as Wetherspoon may face higher labor costs in the future, which may mean lower profitability and / or higher prices. We will see.
Martin’s appeal, however, serves to highlight two difficulties with the new post-Brexit points-based immigration system recently approved by Parliament. The first is that the general intrigue of immigration policy is to attract the ‘best and the brightest’, skilled and professional workers, and people who will earn at least about the UK average wage, and often much more. In fact, the list of professions eligible for a traditional UK work visa is currently surprisingly wide – from medical radiographers to senior care workers to ballet dancers to vets to archaeologists. There seems little to no barrier to anyone from anywhere in the world, properly qualified, being able to apply to come to the UK and work as a nurse, as an engineer or as a ” artist ”, given certain salary expectations. All are classified as “shortage” occupations. There are also special routes for those, for example, nominated by a transnational company or bank, and those nominated by the Royal Society, the British Academy and UK Research and Innovation.