A new report from the London Assembly shows that 12 percent of London's population are from EU countries, compared to four percent in the whole of the UK and that around 13 percent of the five million jobs in London — 600,000 jobs — are held by workers born in EU countries.
The report says EU nationals living and working in London should be guaranteed the right to stay in the UK urgently and should not be used as a bargaining chip in the government's Brexit negotiations.
"London's a magnet for foreign nationals and the EU nationals living and working in London play a massive role in our economy. There are 600,000 jobs in London that are carried out by EU-born workers and some sectors are particularly reliant on EU-born workers. For example, hospitality, the care sector and construction," Assembly Member, Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the Economy Committee told Sputnik.
"It's completely inappropriate for the [UK] government to use the EU national living and working in London as a bargaining chip. These are Londoners — people who are contributing to our society, our communities and the economy and they deserve to be treated with respect.
"They play a massive role in producing the benefits of the London economy. They're not simply migrants who we can lose easily without affecting the economy. Businesses have told us how concerned they are about the potential loss of EU migrants who play such a big role in London," she told Sputnik.
Certain specific sectors are heavily reliant on EU workers, including accommodation and food services, where roughly a third of employees (79,000) born in EU countries. In the construction sector — around a quarter (88,000) of all workers are EU-born and in the National Health Services, roughly one tenth (60,000) of NHS workers in London are from the EU.
Asked to react to reports that Theresa May plans to end permanent residency rights of EU nationals settling in the UK immediately after she triggers Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon next month, Fiona Twycross told Sputnik it was a bad move for London.
"I think it's a massive indictment of the British government that they are looking at ways to prevent EU nationals staying here longer term. Most countries — irrespective of their visa regime — would have some mechanism whereby, if somebody's been in the country for a certain length of time, they would be able to get permanent residency based on their contribution to that society," she told Sputnik.
"We have so many people born outside London who choose to live, work, study and stay here, that the nature of London and the economy of London could be massively affected, because it might impact on people choosing to come here in the first place. It's essential that we keep EU migration and that we have assurances, both for those EU nationals here, but also for businesses, in terms of the type of worker they can have in the future."