We need fair rules in Brexit

Parliament returned after the recess with major headaches for the Government over the NHS and the resignation of Our Man in Brussels.  As 2017 begins exiting the EU remains at the centre of politics and at the core of that lies the thorny matter of freedom of movement.  Wherever I go I am told by people who voted Leave that freedom of movement, immigration to you and I, was at the heart of bringing back control.  But doing so without causing economic harm will not be easy.  Last week I met the owners of an award winning Whitley Bay Indian restaurant working in a sector which often needs to bring in skilled workers.  At a constituency event on Boxing Day an eminent academic told me of the potential multimillion pound loss to regional universities if foreign students are prevented or discouraged from studying here.  It seems to me we need rules which need to be fair but we also need a big investment – a national crusade – to make sure we have the skilled people to capitalise on the opportunities we are told exiting will bring. Before Christmas I spoke to apprentices at an excellent accountancy firm in North Shields – another award winning business – and they told me the hardest part of their training was surviving on the low apprenticeship rate.  If we want a skilled, well motivated workforce we could pay apprentices more, perhaps from the benefits exiting will bring.

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