The head of the BHA has warned that any clampdown on immigration post-Brexit risks pushing foodservice and hospitality businesses “off a cliff edge”.
Ufi Ibrahim told The Mail on Sunday it would not be possible simply to replace the 700,000 migrants who work in businesses such as hotels, restaurants, leisure companies and tourist attractions with UK jobseekers.
EU nationals make up around 15% of the workforce in the UK hospitality and tourism sector and Ibrahim suggested that, while the proportion was significant, it helped sustain the rest of the British workforce.
She urged Prime Minister, Theresa May, to confirm as soon as possible that EU migrants currently working in the sector would have the right to stay in the UK under any future agreement.
‘The problem is that the potential growth of that activity in the UK is not met in terms of labour supply. So if there are going to be curbs placed on access to the workforce then the only thing that can happen is that supply will be constrained and that will affect the way we live,” Ibrahim told the paper.
A survey of BHA members in the run-up to June’s referendum showed that three quarters were in favour of Britain remaining part of the EU.
Experts have argued that Brexit will have a profound effect on the UK labour market, although changes in future employment models could also benefit employees.