The chief corporate boss behind the “Britain Stronger in Europe” (BSE) campaign, Lord Stuart Rose, today stunning “Leave” campaigners by admitting that wages might rise should Britain leave the European Union – but said that it would not necessarily be a good thing.
Pay for the working classes, he said, could rise if the freedom of movement of millions of EU workers ceased after June 24th – the date of Britain’s referendum.
“If Free Movement were to end following Brexit,” asked a Labour Member of Parliament, “is it not reasonable to suppose that we could see increases in wages for low-skilled workers?”
“Yes,” admitted the former Marks and Spencer (M&S) chairman, giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee. “That’s not necessarily a good thing.”
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) March 2, 2016
The idea that corporates would have to pay higher wages if they stopped importing cheap migrant labour has been one of the bedrocks of the Eurosceptic movement for some time. Now, it appears, Lord Rose has admitted his self-interest in trying to keep Britain in the European Union.
“We’ve always said the chief concern of Brussels’ cheerleaders is protecting vested interests, not the public interest,” said Leave.EU spokesman Jack Montgomery. “I waited tables for four years before joining this campaign, and know first-hand how the free market in cut-price labour has held down wages and driven down standards for working people.
“Lord Rose isn’t wrong to say that ending this exploitative system would ‘not necessarily be a good thing’ for the unscrupulous bosses and privileged elites who take advantage of it.
“But for workers who would find themselves able to command a higher price for their labour, with rights which don’t only exist on paper, it would be a very good thing indeed.
“When you cast your vote in June, as yourselves whose concerns are more important: those of ordinary people, working hard to earn a decent living, or those of people like Lord Stuart Ransom Rose of Monewden?”
UKIP Employment Spokeswoman Jane Collins MEP added: “Contrary to what a multi millionaire, ermine clad member of the peerage said I can tell you that people across the UK would be delighted to have higher wages, particularly if that meant they did not need to rely on tax credits and could afford decent clothes and healthy food as well as paying the gas bill.
“Because of mass migration wages have been pushed down to the very minimum and people are still choosing between heating and eating. That’s without even going into those British people who have been desperately seeking work.
“How dare a man with a net worth of £34 million tell people who earn less than £340 a week that higher wages aren’t necessarily a good thing.
“They might not be so good for big business which won’t be able to exploit the free movement of labour the EU brings them but it’ll be a huge bonus for everyone else – although of course not a bonus on the same scale Lord Rose and his other cronies will be used to.”