An India-born businessman and peer has called on the UK government to rethink its 30,000 pounds salary threshold for skilled worker visas in his new role as vice-president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Lord Karan Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra Beer who is set to take charge as the president of the UK's biggest business lobby group next year, said the minimum salary requirement for British companies to be able to attract the right skills from around the world was "impractical".
"In the Indian restaurant sector we have struggled with the immigration rules at the moment, because the restaurants can't bring in the chefs they need," Bilimoria told The Sunday Times.
"An open economy like Britain has had access to the best talent from around the world - including the European Union. The public sector wouldn't survive without them - there are 130,000 EU workers in the NHS [National Health Service] and care sector alone, the House of Lords peer said.
The 30,000 pounds threshold for skilled workers was put forward in a white paper in December last year as part of the UK's post-Brexit immigration strategy despite opposition from some of the then Theresa May led Cabinet, who argued for it to be lower.
The NHS experts have pointed out that the 30,000 pounds level, which already applies to most migrants from outside the EU for countries like India, would exclude junior nurses, whose salaries start at about 23,000 pounds, and junior doctors, who start at about 27,000 pounds.
Bilimoria was made vice-president of the CBI at its annual meeting in June and is therefore lined up to take over from Tesco chairman John Allan when his two-year term ends in 2020. His appointment comes as the CBI, which says it speaks for 190,000 businesses, is at odds with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's hard Brexit line, which it feels is damaging to business interests. Bilimoria, himself an anti-Brexiter, has previously called for a second referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.
"I know the government over the years has always listened to the CBI," he said, stressing that he plans to use much of his personal connect in the current UK Cabinet to fight for business.
"I want to be able to show that business is not only good in that it creates good jobs, pays the taxes and for public services it is also good in what it does for community," he added.