UK regions should issue their own work permits after Brexit

The UK should be able to offer region-specific work permits after we leave the EU, says Merryn Somerset Webb.


Should UK regions be able to offer region-specific work permits if free movement from the EU goes after Brexit?

This is a really interesting question particularly for areas in the UK where the population is ageing faster than elsewhere (Scotland for example) or for those that just think they need a constant supply of cheap labour to keep the show on the road (London, where EU nationals make up 25% of the workforce, for example).

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

"Yes" is also a perfectly good answer. In the Times today, Mark Littlewood of the Ibnsitute of Economic Affairs suggests that "devolved authorities should be able to issue their own work permits." Get one for London and it would come with an L on it. Get one for Scotland and it would come with an S on it. You'd then be entitled to live and work in those regions regardless of your nationality.

There's precedent for this in Australia and in Quebec, as Michael Glackin points out in the Scottish Sunday Times, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research points out in a new report.

Advertisement - Article continues below

In Australia, regional governments can directly recruit workers on a points system and in Quebec there is a devolved policy that allows the region to recruit skilled migrants in any sector. There is more on this here.

Overall it seems like a perfectly reasonable way of dealing with a lot of the things Scotland and London are worried about around Brexit. It also works in the generally successful economies of Canada and Australia. So it is well worth Theresa May thinking about properly.




Brexit begins: what do the UK and the EU want from a trade deal?

With Brexit now done, the trade talks can begin. But who wants what from a UK/EU trade deal, and how likely are they to get it?
3 Feb 2020

Another Brexit delay – so what happens now?

Last week’s excitement over a Brexit deal getting done proved to be premature. John Stepek looks at where we are now, and what it means for your money…
21 Oct 2019

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019
Share tips

Brexit: Will we stay or will we go? And what does it mean for investors?

Brexit has descended into a farcical war of attrition. John Stepek looks at what it all means for your money – whatever the eventual outcome – and pic…
10 Oct 2019

Most Popular


Gold is hard to find right now – so should you be buying?

With demand through the roof and the physical metal hard to find, it's not the best time to buy gold. But right now, says Dominic Frisby, you want to …
25 Mar 2020
EU Economy

The European Central Bank throws away the rulebook to bail out Italy

The ECB has removed all constraints on asset purchases and will now buy “whatever it takes” to tackle the coronavirus. John Stepek explains what it me…
26 Mar 2020

International Consolidated Airlines: a buy for the brave

International Consolidated Airlines, BA’s parent company, is dirt cheap and well placed to recover. Here's how to play it.
23 Mar 2020

Stockmarket crash: more to come

The stockmarket crash was hard and sudden – and it might not be over yet. But while the short term outlook is awful, says Merryn Somerset Webb, that d…
23 Mar 2020