Sadiq Khan is vowing to take Downing Street to task over skilled workers

Mark Sands
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Khan is vowing to seek a "London-specific solution" if the government won't help (Source: Getty)

Sadiq Khan will today accuse the government of failing to listen to fears that London's economy could be rocked if Brexit limits access to skilled workers from EU countries.

London's mayor will tell the government to adopt a negotiating position that defends the interests of the city's businesses. If it does not, Khan says he will push for a "London-specific solution" – which could involve work permits exclusively for firms in the capital.

“If the government ignores the needs of business and pushes ahead with a new system that cuts off access to skilled workers then we will have no choice but to look at a London-specific solution," Khan is expected to say during a speech at the Institute of Directors tonight.

City Hall says 12.5 per cent of London's workforce comes from other European Union countries, forming a crucial part of the city's success. Downing Street's desire to reform migration rules has prompted concern that access to talent could become stifled in the coming years.

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“London's businesses must retain access to the skilled workforce they need in order to grow - it's absolutely essential to protecting jobs, growth and tax revenues across Britain over the next decade,” Khan will say.

Khan will also promise to unite industry leaders, business representatives and experts for talks in London early next year, but City Hall officials are tight-lipped as to exactly who might attend.

The City of London Corporation and the London Chamber of Commerce have both published research on a specific visa scheme for the capital in the last two months.

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One proposal would see the independent Migration Advisory Committee handed a new remit to draft a list of skills shortages in London. City Hall is understood to be particularly keen on this idea.

The MAC, which reports to parliament, already produces similar documentation for Scotland and the UK, as a whole, to support Home Office decision making.

A Home Office spokesman said: “There are no plans to introduce regional visas.”

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London's economic future has been boosted in recent weeks, with both Google and Facebook extending their commitment to the UK. Mark Zuckerberg's social network pledged to create 500 new jobs in London next year.

However, while Google said it would press ahead with plans for a new £1bn headquarters in the UK, chief executive Sundar Pichai admitted a crackdown on immigration would be “a worry” for the sector.

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