London may seek separate Brexit deal, mayor warns

Sadiq Khan Image copyright Getty Images

London could seek a deal to enable firms in the capital to continue recruiting staff from the European Union after Brexit, mayor Sadiq Khan has told business leaders.

In a speech to the Institute of Directors (IoD), he said he will hold a summit in the new year to consider proposals from business groups.

The mayor believes London firms must retain access to a skilled workforce.

He also accused ministers of not listening to the concerns of the City.

Mr Khan told the IoD he has been pressing the government to adopt a negotiating stance which satisfies demands for skilled workers.

He said his monthly meetings with ministers have given him the impression that "it doesn't look like they are listening".

"London's businesses must retain access to the skilled workforce they need in order to grow - it's absolutely essential to protecting jobs, growth and tax revenues across Britain over the next decade," the mayor said.

'Best possible deal'

"If the government ignores the needs of business and pushes ahead with a new system that cuts off access to skilled workers, then we will have no choice but to look at a London-specific solution."

Setting out plans for a London summit, he added: "The City of London Corporation and London Chamber of Commerce have already done some crucial early thinking about options - but we need to go further and faster to make the case to the government and develop a new system."

About 616,000 people born elsewhere in Europe currently work in London, equivalent to 12.5% of the capital's workforce.

They include 88,000 in the construction industry, 49,000 in financial and insurance work and 58,000 in professional, scientific and technical activities.

A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: "We're determined to get the best possible deal for the UK and are preparing for a smooth and orderly exit from the EU.

"There is no benefit to Britain by providing a running commentary on every twist and turn of these negotiations.

"However, it must be a priority to regain control over the number of people coming to the UK from Europe while getting the right deal for trade in goods and services."

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