'Why don't you let them work?': James Cleverly challenged on refugee help for fuel crisis

3 October 2021, 17:58

'Do we want an economy dependent on a volume of low paid labour?'

By Elizabeth Haigh

LBC's Camilla Tominey has challenged minister James Cleverly on turning to migrants to resolve the fuel crisis.

She questioned why refugees arriving in the UK were not allowed to work while in the asylum process.

"These people are already here. They want to be put to work."

But Mr Cleverly told Camilla that "importing" large quantities of low-paid workers is not the solution to the fuel crisis.

She said: "Why don’t you just let them work?"

Mr Cleverly explained: "What kind of economy do we want?

"Do we want an economy which is so dependent on a large volume of low paid labour? I would argue that’s not what we want."

Read more: Truss: 'We’re one of the best countries in the world to be black, a woman or LGBT'

Read more: Fuel shortages remain a 'major problem' in London and South-East, Tory chair tells LBC

'Where is the substance over the soundbite here?'

Mr Cleverly argued that the UK instead wants high-paid jobs which allow people to support their families.

"Every time we try and solve a problem in our economy by importing large numbers of low paid workers we are not going to address that salary situation," he said.

"We are now starting to see salaries - particularly at the lower end of the salary spectrum - increase and that's incredibly important.

"We want people to have more money in their pockets, we want families to be self-reliant, we want people to get on in life and it would be really counterproductive to then undermine all of that by importing a load of cheap labour."

However, Camilla highlighted the fact that there were not enough people to take the jobs needed in the UK.

It comes as the army is set to be drafted in from Monday to help deliver fuel amid the ongoing crisis.

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