‘It’s a lazy term’: Shelagh Fogarty reacts to PM’s ‘best and brightest’ immigration plan

21 November 2022, 17:01

Chief exec of recruitment and employment pokes holes in PM's plans

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

“A high-skilled visa for entrepreneurs coming in isn’t going to help staff our care homes”, a recruitment chief tells Shelagh Fogarty after the PM expressed his desire for the “best and brightest” to come to the UK.

Shelagh Fogarty spoke with a recruitment chief after the Prime Minister’s speech to business leaders at the Confederation of the British Industry Conference today (CBI).

Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation Neil Carberry said that Rishi Sunak’s address was a step above “the famous Peppa Pig speech” from last year, where the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised it as an example of the “power of UK creativity”.

“It’s an improvement on that”, Shelagh smiled.

A Number 10 spokesperson defended him.

Mr Carberry said: “I think most people in the room quite liked his focus on innovation and particularly that kind of broad brush…innovation is about how we work not just about gadgets- I think that landed pretty well.”

However, on Rishi Sunak’s comments about attracting the “best and the brightest”, he said: “Attracting highly skilled people is great”, but the business leaders “in logistics, in care, in hospitality, are interested in just not being able to fill the vacancies they have right now”.

“A high-skilled visa for entrepreneurs coming in isn’t going to help staff our care homes”, he said.

Shelagh Fogarty added that the phrase “best and brightest” was appealing to “immigration shy voters”.

“It’s such a lazy term for what we need, which is detail, detail, detail”, she said.

Shelagh Fogarty criticises PM for appealing to immigration shy voters.

Mr Carberry described the labour supply as “a huge issue”, explaining that “we still have fewer hours worked in our economy than before the pandemic because there are about a million people missing”.

He explained that the mood slightly shifted when the Prime Minister started to talk about immigration and Brexit.

Mr Carberry clarified that this was not necessarily to do with whether the business people were Brexiteers or Remainers, but more to do with the fact that many of them are involved in UK-EU trade.

They are “trying to move things in and out of the country all the time and that is very difficult right now in comparison to before”, he said.

Last week, a business consultant told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast On LBC that he is now filling in “93 to 102-page documents” to get products to companies in Europe, with the shipping taking up to six months.

Another caller told Tom Swarbrick that products used to be able to arrive in the EU the day after he requested deliveries, but now “by the time they collect it, by the time it’s delivered, long-story short, one month!”

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