The capital desperately needs more migrants to fuel the burgeoning recovery, the London Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) argues in its election demands today.
All the main political parties are increasingly anti-immigration, but the business group warned hostility to foreigners can only hurt growth.
Its demands are relatively modest – reinstating the rules allowing overseas students to stay in the UK for two years after graduating – but its chief executive Colin Stanbridge told City A.M. it is vital to stand up in support of more open borders.
“London is a city built on immigration, and that is what makes us a great city,” he said. “We have a skills shortage, we are very dependent as an economy on immigrants. Politicians will admit it in private, but it is difficult for them to say in public that immigration is good for London.”
“But someone has got to stand up and say it – immigration is good, people want to come here to work, to add to the economy, to pay taxes.”
Stanbridge said he goes on trade missions to China to find investors who want to do business with London but who find the visa system off-putting. Instead, he said, they go to other EU countries.