Companies that rely on foreign workers to keep wages low are trying to undermine new immigration system, minister claims
- Kwasi Kwarteng said foreign workers resist ‘transition’ to new economy
- Said transport, meat and farm chiefs cited labor shortages to force a turnaround
- MP for Spelthorne, Surrey, said voters had backed Brexit for ‘exactly this issue’
Companies that depended on foreign workers to keep wages low are trying to undermine the new immigration system, the commerce secretary said last night.
Kwasi Kwarteng accused them of resisting what he described as a “transition” to an economy with lower migration and higher wages.
When asked whether chiefs of transport, meat and farms cited labor shortages and supply problems to try and force a turnaround, he replied, “That’s right.”
Mr Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne in Surrey, said voters had supported Brexit for “exactly this issue”.
“Three weeks before the 2016 referendum, I came out of Staines station and someone came up to me and said, ‘I’m voting for Brexit,'” he told ConservativeHome website.
‘And I said, ‘Why are you doing that?’ And he said, “Well, I haven’t had a raise in 15 years,” and he was a construction worker.
“That’s what it was all about in his head. And so, after we rejected the low-wage, high-immigration model, we would always try to move to something else. What we see now is part of that transition.
“You’re right in saying that people are resisting that, especially employers who took advantage of an influx of labor that could keep wages low.”
The British Meat Processors Association warned yesterday of a shortage of 10,000 butchers. “If the number of butchers on a production line falls below the required level, production slows down and less food is produced,” a spokesperson said.
“There are not 10,000 qualified butchers in the country waiting to be hired. The only short-term source of these skills comes from abroad.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel, right) opposes demands to let 1,000 butchers into the country, amid claims there could be a shortage of pigs in blankets, hams and feasts this Christmas
The BBC reported that a farmer in Yorkshire had slaughtered hundreds of healthy piglets because he was out of space due to delays at the slaughterhouse.
The National Farmers Union says 150,000 pigs could be culled for their welfare in the next week.
Home Secretary Priti Patel opposes demands to let 1,000 butchers into the country, amid claims there could be a shortage of pigs in blankets, hams and feasts this Christmas. Miss Patel’s allies said, ‘We cannot erode the points-based system sector by sector.’
A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior said: “We are closely monitoring the labor supply.”