The Reader: Why we should rejoin Europe’s single market

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The EU and United Kingdom flag (PA Wire)
The EU and United Kingdom flag (PA Wire)

The flaw in Lord Wolfson’s scheme to allow businesses to hire staff from overseas to fill gaps in return for paying a visa tax, outlined in this newspaper on Monday, is that he has not addressed how the UK will be made a destination of choice for overseas workers.

The majority of those workers will still likely come from Eastern Europe but economies there are doing well and there are plenty of jobs closer to home for them in the EU. The seven per cent visa tax he proposes be paid on overseas workers’ wages would make the UK even less desirable. Isn’t the answer to rejoin the single market and accept freedom of movement (but remain outside of the political structure of the EU)?

Rohan Moorthy

Dear Rohan,

It is a complicated issue for sure. But I don’t think Lord Wolfson is arguing about how to make the UK the “destination of choice” for overseas workers. The whole point is that we prioritise workers who are already here. He is suggesting that firms choosing to hire an overseas worker have to pay a fee to the Government to do so. That fee would not be in their pay packet. The firm would be obliged to pay the overseas worker the same and a fee on top. So there is a disincentive to hire the overseas worker, but they can if they really need to. This is just him trying to be imaginative about what solution might work. He is open to others, as we all should be.

Simon English, City correspondent

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