Great Britain

The government may not see the merits of immigration – but London does

London is a truly global city.

For centuries, our open and outward-looking attitude has shaped and defined us, with our entrepreneurial spirit and prosperity heavily influenced by the flow of ideas and people from Europe and around the world. 

This is now under threat.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Instead of recognising the hugely positive impact that immigration has had on London and the UK’s economy and communities, the government is proposing to pull up the drawbridge.

London has a far larger number of EU workers in so-called "lower-skilled" jobs than any other part of the UK – around 300,000 filling almost 20 per cent of lower-skilled roles – and we are proud that these European Londoners have made our city their home.

This new immigration policy published by the government is yet another attack on our capital from the most anti-London government in living memory, and an assault on our city’s values of decency, openness and mutual respect.

Under the new proposals, it seems it would have been impossible for my own parents, and so many others like mine from around the world, to migrate to the UK and contribute to our city and country.

The new rules will cause huge damage to crucial sectors of our economy, from construction to social care, from hospitality to retail.

Undermining these sectors will make it even harder to build the homes we need, look after our elderly relatives, and resolve the ongoing pressures within our NHS and social care system.

The government’s answer to the serious questions raised about the new system is that businesses and organisations will be able to adapt to the new immigration rules through increased automation and upskilling.

This simply doesn’t stack up. You can’t automate creativity or automate the compassion needed in social care.

The reality is that these proposals will damage London’s communities and economy and, in turn, the whole country’s economy.

A quarter of the UK’s economic output is from London – so if we limit our capital city, we limit the whole country.

 Priti Patel refuses to say whether her parents would have been able to enter the UK under her immigration plans

Instead of this regressive approach, the government should have brought forward plans that take into account the unique circumstances of cities and regions across the UK.

Pandering to divisive voices and pushing ahead with a one size fits all, short-sighted, self-defeating, ideological policy will hurt our economy, undermine social integration and restrict our ability to attract talented people from Europe and around the world. 

London urgently needs a sensible solution on immigration that meets the needs of our businesses, communities and public services, and tackles the demographic challenges our city faces.

That’s why there should be a more devolved approach to immigration – London and other regions should be given more flexibility and control to attract the talented people we need, to focus on the sectors of London’s economy that need support, and to put in place the right salary cap for our city. 

As Mayor, I’ll continue to stand up for London by making the positive case for immigration, and I will keep on arguing for a system that not only allows us to access the workforce our economy needs, but one that also defends migrants’ rights, enables social integration, and allows all of us to benefit from the dynamism, innovation and energy that comes with having migrants contributing to our diverse city.

Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London

Football news:

Dennis Bergkamp: Henri killed the intrigue in matches. He is the best player in this role that I have ever seen
President of Las Palmas: Our stadium will be the only one in the top Championships with fans in the stands from June 13
Vitinho, Gabigol and other Flamengo players spoke out about the death of George Floyd: black Lives matter
PSG were in contact with desta's entourage. The Ajax defender is Interested in Barcelona and Bayern
The Werner scored his 25th goal in the Bundesliga. Only Lewandowski and Immobile have scored more in the top 5 European leagues
The goalkeeper of Leipzig Gulacsi made an assist in the match against Cologne
I didn't have many friends because of my hair. Inspiring stories of Shelvey, Collina and other athletes who lost their hair due to illness