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Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis warns businesses may have to employ fewer staff post-Brexit

PUBLISHED: 09:52 04 October 2017

Brandon Lewis has backed Theresa May after she struggled through her conference speech

Brandon Lewis has backed Theresa May after she struggled through her conference speech

PA Wire/PA Images

Businesses will be forced to employ fewer staff and improve productivity after Brexit, Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has warned.

The immigration minister vowed freedom of movement would end in March 2019, the Brexit deadline, even though the government has outlined plans for an transitional period which could last for years after that date.

Speaking at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester he said: “We do have to look at productivity and how we develop skills here in this country.

“So, there are some sectors – let’s look at construction. We build houses here arguably in the way we did 100 years ago, and take roughly 24 weeks and 20 plus people to build one house.

“Other parts of the world do it in three or four weeks with three or four people. So there are issues like that we’ve got to deal with as well.”

The government has set a target of getting net migration down to 100,000 people per year. It currently stands at 246,000. However Mr Lewis added that a new immigration policy would ensure different sectors of the economy are still able to employ the staff they need.

He added that some of the shortfall could be made up by training British workers to do the jobs currently done by immigrant labour but also called on business to improve the way they work.

Further details on how the government will tackle the problem will be made available next year when the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which is chaired by Professor Alan Manning from the London School of Economics, presents its report to ministers.

However Mr Lewis confirmed that there will not be a loosening of the 100,000 target. Theresa May first set the figure during her time as Home Secretary and reiterated her determination to meet it after becoming prime minister.

Mr Lewis added: “We want to deliver net migration which is at sustainable levels, which we think is in the tens of thousands. The MAC report will come back and give us advice about what different sectors need. We as a government then have to take a decision on policy. I think we can deliver sustainable levels of net migration.”

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