London Will Be Hurt by Brexit Visa Restrictions, Banker Warns

(Bloomberg) -- Tougher post-Brexit immigration rules risk depriving London of the people it needs to drive the economy, according to an advocate for businesses in the British capital.

Restrictions that aim to prioritize high-skill migration will punish a multitude of industries where there are staff shortages, according to Jasmine Whitbread, who runs the London First lobby group and is a non-executive director at Standard Chartered Plc.

Having “diverse people from around the world does make London outperform, so we do need to be able to attract those people,” Whitbread said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

The U.K. government’s proposals for tighter immigration controls include a 30,000-pound ($38,500) annual earnings threshold for some visas, following the country’s departure from the European Union.

“The problem with that is half of all Londoners actually earn less than that, and a third of all Londoners are born outside the U.K.,” she said. “There’s many skilled people out there who aren’t earning 30,000. Nurses, radiographers, chefs -- we’ve got a shortage of chefs across London -- carers, construction workers. That’s the key sticking point that we’re still in debate on with the government.”

Whitbread said finance and many other sectors have concerns about the cap. “They all agree the one thing that they want to ensure we secure -- regardless of the outcome of Brexit, but linked to it -- is continued access to global talent.”

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