The Yorkshire Post Says: A new post-Brexit immigration system must not harm Yorkshire's rural heartland

The rural economy has a vital but often-overlooked role to play in the prosperity of not just this region but the nation as a whole.

A meadow in the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: Bruce Rollinson

As such, it is heartening to hear of plans to help the hundreds of small businesses located in the North York Moors National Park by increasing the area’s profile and boosting tourism.

Measures to bring more people to the park in the next four years including the creation of more wildlife corridors. Such local initiatives are undeniably welcome and sensible. But they also require the support of national policy to work.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Immigration minister Brandon Lewis has announced freedom of movement will end when Britain leaves the European Union in March 2019. A new immigration system will have to be established in a way which does not harm rural businesses, especially those farms which rely on migrant labour to fill seasonal vacancies.

The challenge to the Government in this area is considerable. The Brexit vote underlined the desire from many to see a reduction in immigration levels through a system under British, rather than European Union, control.

But the practical issues caused by pursuing that strategy can already be seen in farming where soft fruit growers are now reporting the worst labour shortages since 2004. Almost three quarters of such farms surveyed by the BBC said they would consider reducing their UK production if there were future restrictions on seasonal workers.

The country’s new immigration system must ensure that such vital rural industries are not damaged.