Letter from Andrew Downton, published in The Independent on 29 October 2014:
Coming from a former minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Michael Fallon’s comments at the weekend were as surprising as they were misguided.
There are those who would agree there are areas in the UK that have been negatively impacted by immigration. However from a business perspective, migrant workers are playing a vital role in holding our economy together.
The simple fact is there isn’t enough skilled labour in the UK at the moment, and people haven’t grasped what this means for industry. Logistics is a prime example, where we are facing the worst driver shortage in living memory. We’re approaching Christmas, the busiest period of the year, and if we didn’t have skilled foreign drivers to plug the gap, we’d be facing the very real possibility of logistics businesses grinding to a halt.
As a large UK haulier, it is the responsibility of companies like ours to find a long-term solution to this challenge, and we hope the nationwide apprenticeship scheme we’ve just launched will go some way to doing that. But it’s going to take time, and until then we need European workers to keep Britain moving – Michael Fallon would do well to remember that.
The letter can be found on The Independent website here.