Belfast Telegraph

Brompton bicycles boss concerned over Brexit immigration plans

The boss of Brompton bicycles has warned that Britain will suffer if the Government presses ahead with strict immigration controls as part of its Brexit plans.

Will Butler-Adams told the Press Association that the UK should be seeking to "pile in with the rest of the world, not put up barriers".

He said: "There's lots of rhetoric at the moment, but if we do re-trench and put the barriers up, then the country will be in a significantly bad position.

"We are being told to export, but we need to be able to hire people - from wherever in the world they might be - to help us do this."

Theresa May and senior Government ministers have struck increasingly hawkish tones of late, indicating that Britain is heading towards a so-called "hard Brexit", whereby economic growth would be sidelined in favour of reducing immigration.

To compound matters, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has suggested that businesses will be forced to compile lists of foreign workers, although the Government has appeared to back down on the policy following criticism.

The folding bicycle boss added: "What the Brexit vote showed is that people have lost faith in big business and politicians. The reason people are frustrated is they believe the net effect of immigration is negative.

"But if we can raise the quality and calibre of people coming into the country from around the world - from China, Singapore and India - then it will add value, that's a no-brainer.

"We want to be more cosmopolitan and pile in with the rest of the world, not put up barriers."

The comments come alongside the launch of the Vibrant Economy Commission, which aims to examine the challenges and opportunities facing UK business.

As well as Mr Butler-Adams, the commission's backers include Ella's Kitchen founder Paul Lindley, accountancy firm Grant Thornton, as well as representatives from The Co-operative Group and Etsy.

The chief executive added that companies should operate with more integrity and take a more long-term approach.

"If businesses continue to look at only the short term, then they are not creating shareholder value. A 10-year view is needed to really think about what they are doing," he said.