Hilary Benn yesterday chaired a session of the Brexit Committee at Leeds Civic Hall as it took evidence from legal, banking and insurance and financial services company bosses on the possible impact of Brexit.
They included Mike Regnier, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Building Society, and Sally Jones, Director for International Trade Policy at professional services firm Deloitte.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central, said the Government’s immigration policy was crucial after Brexit as 80 per cent of the British is economy is services, rather than manufacturing.
He said: “If you are putting on a production at Opera North, and your lead singer goes down with laryngitis this afternoon, and tomorrow you’re doing Don Giovanni, at the moment you can get someone to come from Europe, they don’t need a work permit, they don’t permission, they don’t need a visa.
“They come and sing and they go off again. How’s it going to work in the future, it depends on what our future immigration system looks like.
“It’s the one bit of the Brexit process that’s entirely in our hands, what immigration policy are we going to operate, because that it not a matter of negotiation if we leave the single market, leaving behind free movement, it comes down to the policies the Home Office comes up with, and debating them in Parliament.
“Having the right people with the right skills, whether you are operating on folk at Leeds General Infirmary or Jimmy’s [hospital in Leeds], whether you are processing vegetables in Yorkshire, whether you are driving a bus or running a manufacturing company, people are a fundamental part of that.
“If you are going to keep a strong, successful economy in Leeds and Yorkshire, attracting the brightest and the best home-grown talent, and talent from around the world, makes the economy strong and that is good for people in the region, because businesses thrive, they create more jobs.”