Liberal Elites Bemoan Loss of ‘Cheap Labour’ Au Pairs After Brexit

The charred body found in a London garden last month was identified as that of 21-year-old French woman Sophie Lionnet who worked as an au-pair, police said October 3, 2017. The gruesome nature of the death provoked a strong reaction from au pairs working in Britain, and among the French …
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images

‘Remoaner’ elites have complained that they will no longer be able to afford their au pairs following Brexit, as immigration laws now mandate that migrants must receive a living wage.

A columnist for the Financial Times, Peter Foster, took to social media to express his “despair” that “Brexit will just continue to retard relations with the EU on a personal/cultural level, it’s inevitable.”

In an article penned for the Europhile newspaper on Friday, Mr Foster noted that prior to the United Kingdom’s departure from the bloc, au pairs “received board and lodging, a contribution towards English language classes and £100 a week ‘pocket money’ in exchange for about 25 hours of childcare per week.”

However, under Britain’s new points-based immigration system, au pairs, alongside nannies and childcare workers, are classified under the “skilled workers” provision and therefore are required to earn a minimum salary of £20,480 per year.

The head of the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA), Jamie Shackell, said that paying a living wage to au pairs would destroy the programme, saying: “It is inappropriate to categorise au pairs as skilled workers as they have no formal childcare qualifications — they don’t belong in that bracket.”

The complaints were lambasted by former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney, who wrote on social media: “Remainers bleating they will have to pay their au pairs fair wages after Brexit — as opposed to ‘pocket money’ [and] lodgings — is a brilliant example of how out-of-touch they are with reality.”

“Honestly, for years on TV, I used to half-joke it was about ‘cheap au-pairs’ for metropolitan Remainers. My opponents would scoff at me. Turns out I was right all along. Pay fair wages for child care like the rest of us had to!”

“This shows it was always about cheap EU labour [and] self-interest,” he added.

One of the people interviewed for the FT article, Oli Long, a London-based NHS consultant doctor who is married to another consultant, said of the au pair programme: “We honestly couldn’t manage without them.”

“We both have senior positions and sometimes we unavoidably get stuck at work, and when that happens we know someone is there who can put the girls to bed. Leave aside the cost — a daytime nanny or childminder doesn’t work for that,” he said.

Another NHS physician, Dr Natasha McCullagh wrote in The Telegraph in January that “without an au pair, our house would fall apart.”

“Having an au pair is like oxygen – it allows us to breathe. We no longer spend time clock-watching at work or frantically WhatsApping our colleagues if a childminder has pulled out last minute,” she wrote.

Dr McCullagh again highlighted the cost savings of the programme, saying: “It’s also one of the cheapest forms of childcare. An au pair has a fixed weekly fee of just £100, which is significantly less than any other childcare, where you’d pay by the hour.”

An experienced consultant doctor working for the NHS enjoys a salary of well-over £100,000, according to basic pay scales listed by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The class divide in the fight over Brexit has been longstanding. It was perhaps best typified in 2016 when millionaire pop star Bob Geldof confronted a flotilla of pro-Brexit fishermen on his yacht.

One of those on Mr Geldof’s yacht, Bethany Pickering, expressed her discomfort after realising that in promoting her supposedly left-wing cause, she was siding with the millionaire elite over the working class.

“On a boat with Bob Geldof and its awful. I may vote Remain, but don’t support jeering at fisherman worried about their livelihoods,” she wrote.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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