Trade fears amid plans for stronger UK border controls

October 06, 2016

Business leaders have raised concerns that a hard-line approach to immigration is putting the UK on a collision course with the EU that could damage trade. Prime minister Theresa May said yesterday that controlling immigration would be a key basis for Brexit, but EU leaders have said open borders are a non-negotiable element of securing tariff-free trade with Europe after the UK leaves. May said: “We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.” The UK will start the two-year process of leaving the EU by March 2017 at the latest. May’s comments indicate that there will be little clarity on future trade agreements until well after negotiations have begun but manufacturers need short-term certainty to decide which factories to invest in for the production of new models. Among the key decisions to be made is the home for the new Nissan Juke, currently produced in Sunderland. Senior executives at Nissan including Carlos Ghosn have stressed that no decisions will be made without reassurances that UK factories will have tariff-free exports to the EU in future. Business leaders also criticised a ‘British jobs for British workers’ policy proposed by May which includes businesses being forced to reveal how many foreign staff they employ. The Institute of Directors said Britain is at its best when it is open and attracting the brightest and best to its industries. For Germany alone, there are 500,000 workers in the UK, according to Reuters.

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