Businesses based in the UK must hire more British workers, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said as she warned that companies will not be able to rely on workers from the European Union after Brexit. The government will push businesses including food retailers such as Pret A Manger to train and recruit more British citizens who would otherwise be unemployed, Rudd said in an interview during the U.K.’s election campaign on Sunday.
The cabinet minister hinted Theresa May’s Conservatives will rewrite their previous pledges on reducing migration when they publish their policy manifesto before the June 8 vote.
“I did hear that Pret A Manger had come out and said ‘it’s absolutely essential for us to have European workers because if we don’t, we are going to have to make more of an effort to recruit in the U.K.’ Well, good,” Rudd told “Pienaar’s Politics” on BBC radio. “We will be trying to push them as well to do more in the U.K. — them and all other businesses — so that we make sure we look after people who are otherwise unemployed.”
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May, the prime minister, called the election in a bid to strengthen her political position before she begins negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, and to gain a mandate for her vision of Brexit, which includes ending the free movement of EU citizens in the U.K.
The premier regards gaining control over immigration from the EU as a red line demand for the Brexit talks, and a key priority for the 17 million people who voted to leave the bloc in last year’s referendum. Net migration stood at 273,000 in the 12 months through September, according to official figures released in February. This was lower than the near-record 335,000 in the year before the Brexit referendum.
In early March, Pret A Manger warned during a House of Lords committee meeting it would be unable to hire enough workers if it had to rely purely on British citizens — because so few apply.
In the interview, Rudd signaled May’s Tories are reviewing the pledge to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 and will set out the plan in their election manifesto. “We are having a new manifesto — it’s not going to be identical to the last one,” Rudd said. “It’s right that we look at it again.”
Local elections held in Britain on Thursday suggest May’s Conservatives are heading for a decisive victory in the national vote, a picture confirmed by new opinion polls giving the party a healthy double-digit lead over nearest rivals Labour, the main opposition party.
Labour, which suffered heavy losses in local voting, unveiled a plan to increase the tax on people earning more than 80,000 pounds ($104,000) a year.
John McDonnell, Labour’s finance spokesman, outlined the proposal, as he said there’s “a lot to learn” from reading Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital.”
“Labour is now the party of low taxes for middle and lower earnings,” McDonnell said Sunday in a speech in east London.
“For those above 80,000, we are asking them to pay a modest bit more — why? To fund our public services,” he told BBC television’s “Andrew Marr Show” earlier on Sunday.