Top business leaders warn on status of EU workers

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin
JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said his company had benefited from EU immigration

Warnings about the hit the UK economy could suffer if the rights of EU workers are not protected after the country leaves the EU have been issued by two high-profile business leaders.

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe said roughly 5pc of its employees were from the EU and it would be a big issue for his company if it was no longer able to employ them and would represent a wider problem for the country, given something like the agricultural industry sees approximately 80,000 seasonal workers come to pick fruit and vegetables in the UK.

The leisure industry is also heavily reliant on overseas labour and could face difficulties if it is not easily able to hire such workers post-Brexit.

Chairman of pub chain JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, is a staunch Brexiteer but has called himself a “liberal” where immigration is concerned given he said his company has benefited from immigration from within and outside of the EU.

The comments from atop the two companies come just weeks after several leisure trade body representatives told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee replacing EU workers with domestic labour would be extremely difficult and take years.

This was supported by comments from sandwich chain Pret A Manger that only 1 in 50 job applications it gets are from British people looking for work.

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