Britain's upcoming departure from the European Union's (EU) customs union and single market at the end of this year does not just mean goods and services will no longer flow freely between the British isles and mainland Europe, it also means people and labor will no longer flow freely.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has now unveiled their plans for labor and immigration and British employers are warning that it could be a disaster.
Johnson's plan calls for closing the door to "unskilled labor," but the term "unskilled" will be applied to anyone making less than a certain amount of money each year and won't necessarily reflect someone's actual skill set.
Employers say they're going to face severe labor shortages without those so-called "unskilled" workers.
Farms, food factories and care homes said Wednesday that they will face severe labor shortages under the government’s plans to open Britain to skilled and educated immigrants while shutting out those its deems “low-skilled” workers.
The message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government was blunt: “Employers will need to adjust.”
“We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labor from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation,” the government said in a paper laying out its immigration plans.
"Cheap labor from Europe" is a bizarre string of words, isn't it? As if French citizens have somehow lowered the labor standards of Britain.
The Johnson government's policy will define anyone who makes less than 25,600 pounds ($33,000) a year as "unskilled" and the problem is that a significant number of jobs across many industries afford starting salaries that are lower than that even for British citizens.
Some businesses will be able to adjust to offering that amount of pay because they will have no other choice. Others will go out of business or they'll turn to "technology and automation," as the Johnson government recommends, which means the jobs will disappear entirely as they're offloaded to robots and artificial intelligence rather than dirty "unskilled" humans.
It's remarkable how much British and American immigration policy and the accompanying rhetoric now mirror each other. The British version is just slightly less naked, but both are based on racism rather than empirical economic reality.