No Brexit trade deal is complete without an immigration policy to keep EU talent

Catherine McGuinness
One in every five people working in the financial district come from Europe (Source: Getty)

London has long been one of the world’s leading financial hubs.

Achieving this position has, in part, been down to its ability to attract people from all over the globe to live and work here.

The mix of culture, history, and job prospects makes it a vibrant and thriving city, where opportunities are plentiful.

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There are obvious benefits of attracting European and international talent to our capital, such as filling the skills gap, contributing to our national economy, and enabling firms to operate across borders. But, for me, the real advantage of a diverse workforce is more subtle; a varied mix of nationalities serves to deepen society’s knowledge of different cultures and ways of living.

This notion of expanding our understanding has helped build internationalisation as we know it today. In order to retain our stance as the pre-eminent financial hub, it is vital that London keeps this international outlook. We need global talent to serve a global sector.

Today, the City of London Corporation has analysed ONS data which reveals how vital European workers are to the Square Mile.

With 18 per cent of the City’s entire workforce coming from parts of Europe, it’s the highest figure ever recorded in the 13 years we have requested the data.

To put this into context, around one in every five people working in the financial district come from the continent, or, more specifically, the European Economic Area.

The detail on the sectors that the European workforce is choosing to pursue is even more insightful.

Looking at the professional services sector specifically, the data reveals that 12 per cent of the City’s workforce hail from Europe – this is more than double the share of four years previously, when European workers in this sector stood at just five per cent.

Separately, the financial and insurance sector is currently staffed by 13 per cent continental workers, which, compared to the previous decade, when the figure was just eight per cent, is a significant increase.

This data crystalises the importance of European workers to the UK’s biggest financial centre, and the need for a clear post-Brexit immigration policy.

Immigration was a central focus of the Brexit vote itself, and has since been a sticking-point for both sides of the negotiating teams. It’s the only element of Brexit that will directly affect the lives of many Europeans living in the UK, and vice versa.

Despite this, we have little information on the future status of millions of people who are living here or in the EU.

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to immigration. It’s a highly complex element of the Brexit negotiations. But it needs a solution, and one which does not involve simply closing our borders.

We are committed to working closely with the government to make sure that we can provide a solution to this difficult question.

After all, securing a good trade deal without a sound immigration policy would be a hollow victory, so it’s vital this is addressed sooner rather than later.

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