Business leaders speak out in support of immigration

Two leading figures in British business have championed the benefits of immigration to the UK economy. Former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose speaking on the Murnaghan show on Sunday said:

I'm a free market economist, we operate in a free market. If these people want to come here, and work the hours they are prepared to work for the wages they are prepared to work for, then so be it.

Sir Stuart was joined on Monday by the boss of Domino's Pizza, who called for a relaxation of the UK's draconian immigration restrictions. Chief executive, Lance Batchelor pointed to the 1,000 unfilled positions with the pizza group that British workers have not applied for.

We’re struggling to get enough employees. Since the immigration laws were tightened up two or three years ago, we are finding it harder and harder to hire staff, especially in London and the South East.

Batchelor and Rose are by no means the first UK business leaders to make the positive case for immigration.

Pret A Manger was heavily criticised in January 2012 when it revealed that only 19 per cent of its UK staff were British. In 2013 Pret saw the proportion of its British staff rise to 20 per cent but CEO, Clive Schlee emphasised "we will always employ the very best people at Pret and we celebrate the rich diversity of our workforce and the atmosphere that brings to our shops.”

The defence of labour market freedom comes partly as a consequence of the government's policy to limit immigration to tens of thousands a year.

Parties across the political spectrum have converged around the position that immigration at a time of high youth unemployment presents a problem for the UK economy. There are a number of problems with this view.

The critics of immigration have mistaken the UK labour market as a homogenous blob rather than a complex layer of different labour markets.

These critics are also labouring under the assumption that an influx of immigrants into the unskilled labour market will lead to declining wages as well as job losses for British workers.

There is little evidence to support this claim. It is true that more immigrants increases the supply of labour, but immigrants also demand goods and services leading to more jobs creation and a virtuous circle of economic growth.

In this situation immigration is a net benefit for immigrants, workers, businesses and consumers.