London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned almost a quarter of London's construction workforce is facing an uncertain future ahead of Brexit negotiations.
Pressing the case for retention of skilled workers as a key priority in Brexit talks, Khan today argued the loss of London's 95,000 European construction workers would have “a seriously detrimental effect” on projects across the capital, with both housebuilding and infrastructure projects at risk.
While 27 per cent of the workers in the capital's building projects hail from EU member states, a further 14 per cent come from the rest of the world.
Khan said: “When I speak to businesses – both large and small – one of the biggest issues they raise with me is the skills gap. They tell me that maintaining a skilled workforce is absolutely crucial to their future and the future of the whole economy.
“London is in the grip of a serious housing crisis – and fixing it is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
“While we are working to train up more Londoners to have the skills to work in construction, you can't escape the fact that a 'Hard Brexit' could leave a quarter of the skilled construction workforce in the capital high and dry which would have a crippling effect on our plans to build the homes Londoners so desperately need.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said she hopes to protect the rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK, but argues she has been held back by a need to agree a multilateral deal that protects Britons resident on the continent.
It comes as speculation increases that May will set a firm date beyond which EU nationals coming into the UK would no longer be entitled to residency.
The Telegraph reported today she will link the move to the triggering of Article 50, with arrivals from member states subject to migration curbs after Brexit talks begin.
A Downing Street spokesman said today that no decisions had been made on a so-called cut-off date, but on the topic of EU nationals, they added: “The Prime Minister has been clear on wanting that to be an issue that is addressed as a priority once the negotiations with the other member states get underway.”