Photographer: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Proposed U.K. Immigration Curbs Unworkable, Dixons CEO Says

  • Deterring EU migrants poses problems for NHS, James says
  • U.K. wants businesses to favor British workers after Brexit

The U.K.’s proposal to sharply reduce immigration after it leaves the European Union may be untenable because it would create severe labor shortages for businesses and public services, according to the chief executive officer of the country’s largest electronics retailer.

A leaked immigration paper from Prime Minister Theresa May’s government this week outlined its intention to limit the residency of low-skilled migrants from the European Union to two years, immediately after Brexit.

Seb James

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“I’d be extremely surprised if that’s what we end up with because it would be problematic for us and many others, including the National Health Service,” Dixons Carphone Plc CEO Seb James said in an interview after the company’s annual general meeting in London on Thursday.

Dixons Carphone, which operates in seven European countries, employs about 4,000 workers from elsewhere in the EU in its U.K. business and James has said he will “fight like a stag” to protect them.

The U.K.’s plan to restrict migration and train more British workers after Brexit ignores the employment requirements of businesses, according to the Institute of Directors. The Health Foundation said in June that the number of nurses from the EU registering to practice in Britain had plummeted by 96 percent in 12 months.

James said he was optimistic that the U.K. could reach a transitional agreement on leaving the bloc, albeit at “the 11th hour.” The U.K. wants a Brexit transition period that mirrors the rules of EU membership as closely as possible, Brexit secretary David Davis said Thursday.

“The main sanction for the EU negotiators is to offer this damaging cliff-edge scenario, but it wouldn’t be good for anyone,” James said. “If they want anything from us they will have to be more accommodating.”

Negotiations in Brussels are currently stuck in arguments about the divorce terms, with the two sides clashing over how much Britain will have to pay the bloc when it leaves.

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