UK must match pro-immigration rhetoric with action on visas

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Mark Boleat, the policy chairman of the City of London Corporation, has called on the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron to match his 'open for business rhetoric with action on visas'. Mr Boleat was writing in The London newspaper The Evening Standard.

He said that Mr Cameron had claimed, while on a visit to China, that 'an open Britain is the ideal partner for an opening China'. Mr Boleat questioned whether Britain is really as 'open' as Mr Cameron claimed.

Mr Boleat said that a recent poll showed that only 14% of respondents in a recent poll believed that immigration from the EU was good for the UK while over 60% believed that it was harmful.

'We must prove the UK is open'

He said 'We must prove the UK is open by consistently emphasising the benefits managed immigration brings to the country as a whole'. He said that 'the government should make it clear that the UK continues to welcome talented people from across the globe – regardless of nationality'.

Mr Boleat said that much of London's success can be attributed to immigration. He said 'Malaysian microbiologists in Bloomsbury, Indian IT experts in Shoreditch and Croatian composers at the Barbican are all integral parts of London life'.

But he said that 'anti-immigration mood music' had the potential to damage the UK's competitiveness. He said that a perception that the UK no longer welcomed Indian students had resulted in a 'sharp drop' in the number of Indian students applying to study in the UK.

Perception often trumps reality

He said that this showed how 'perception often trumps reality'.

He said 'matching the open for business rhetoric with action on visas will help London and the UK keep pace in a fast-changing world'.

Sanwar Ali of said 'Mr Boleat seems to be calling on the government to make it easier for skilled migrants to come to the UK to work and contribute to the economy. This is welcome.

Skilled workers from around the world benefit the UK economy

'Skilled workers from around the world have been of great benefit to the UK's economy. I agree with Mr Boleat that we need to take "action on visas" to help the British economy.

The Tier 1 General visa was a great success. This visa allowed immigrants to come to the UK to work for any employer. It should be brought back perhaps in modified form. Steps should also be taken to make it easier to come under the Tier 2 work visa and Tier 4 student visa schemes."

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