Top East Anglian farmer urges rethink on immigration policy
- Credit: Archant
The government has got its immigration policy back to front, a leading East Anglian farmer has claimed.
G’s Fresh boss John Shropshire said it should focus on getting in unskilled workers, rather than skilled ones, as the emphasis should be on training up British citizens to take on high-paid, not low-paid, UK jobs.
Mr Shropshire, who is chairman of a £0.5bn global farming business run by members of his family and lives in Soham, Cambridgeshire. was guest speaker at an Ipswich Suffolk Business Club lunch at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, Ipswich, on Thursday, May 11. His business specialises in growing salads and vegetables in the UK - including in Suffolk - Czech Republic, Poland, Spain and Senegal.
Speaking before the event about the effects of Brexit, Mr Shropshire, whose Ely-based group employs 7,000 people around the world, insisted that although he campaigned tirelessly in favour of remaining in the European Union, his company would not be one of the losers from the decision to leave.
“I was a massive remainer, and I did speeches and I got involved in the debate,” he said, as he admitted he was “pretty gutted” at the outcome, which he described as a “backward step”.
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Successive governments had focused on jobs creation in Britain, fuelling a demand for workers, he argued. But demand outstripped supply, meaning that many had been drawn in from other countries.
“Everyone talks about creating more jobs. We have created millions of jobs in the last eight years - far more jobs than we have got people,” he said. “We have created low-paid jobs, and government policy should have been putting a dampener on this.”
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He added: “Government is promising us we can bring in skilled people, but surely we should be training British people for the skilled jobs. Surely the lower-paid people from abroad should come in to do the less skilled jobs.”
Mr Shropshire, who has a son, Guy, who runs G’s Spanish operation, and another, Henry, who started operations in Poland two years ago, said he feared that anti-British sentiment would grow across Europe as a result of anti-immigrant feeling here. He admitted concern for his youngest son, who lived and farmed in Poland. “We have been worried about his safety to be honest.”