Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, and Heidi Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire, have issued a joint statement ahead of the Government releasing its long awaited, and much delayed, White Paper on Immigration. The paper, due before Christmas, is expected to announce the end of freedom of movement for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals after the end of the Brexit transition period in 2020.
This comes after the MPs have spent several months engaging with local organisations and businesses on issues around changes to the immigration system, particularly to the end to freedom of movement, and how this could affect recruitment and retention within vital industries. This engagement has formed part of a cross-party, immigration project initiated by the MPs this summer, in collaboration with local business network, Cambridge Ahead.
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, and Heidi Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire have said: “As we get closer to March 29 2019, companies in and around Cambridge will be getting anxious about what the future immigration rules will look like for EEA nationals. Companies and organisations from our constituencies have been relying on non-UK EEA nationals coming and going in a flexible way for some time, as they plug key skill shortages in the area. Feedback received already through this project indicates that those skills are quite varied in nature so it is imperative that the Government gets this legislation right.”
“Immigration is clearly an important part of the UK’s relationship with the EU and whatever form that policy takes it must not hurt companies in and around Cambridge. Both Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire are important constituencies for the wider economic growth of the country, and dramatic changes in the ability of people to come and work here could affect that.”
The aim of the project was to gather viewson what the UK’s future immigration policy should look like, particularly if Britain is to leave the European Union, from organisations based in the MPs’ constituencies. Many companies in both Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire rely heavily on the free movement of people from EEA countries, and concerns have been voiced about how a new immigration regime may impact organisations operating in and around Cambridge. In the last few days, Mr Zeichner has met with Human Resources managers from businesses based at the Cambridge Science Park to listen to their concerns about recruitment of non-UK EEA nationals if freedom of movement is to end.
Jeanette Walker, Chief Executive of Cambridge Science Park, says: “Companies on the Cambridge Science Park compete for talent with places like Silicon Valley, Israel, Europe and increasingly China. Their success is based on being able to attract and retain scientists and experienced entrepreneurs from around the world. We welcome any initiative that helps them do this.”
The Government’s Immigration White Paper was due for release early December, however it has been delayed until after the key vote on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. After the Brexit transition period in December 2020, it has been stated by the Government that freedom of movement for EEA national will come to an end. Many organisations in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire have a significant proportion of their staff from EEA countries, particular the research, medical and science sectors.
“The intention of the project was to ensure that when the Immigration Bill is debated in the House of Commons, the right representations can be made for our constituencies. We have received many valuable responses from a range of sectors, which have all conveyed clear concerns for us to consider in the coming weeks.”