The UK economy needs 200,000 migrants a year to avoid “catastrophic consequences” linked to Brexit, a think tank has said.
The figure, in a report by Global Future, which has Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe on its advisory board, is double the Conservatives' target for migration. The party repeated its aim to limit annual migration at “tens of thousands” in its manifesto this week.
The Labour party has said it will not give a target figure, but said there must be “fair but managed” migration.
Global Future said shortages in key areas such as food and the NHS, as well as an ageing population in Britain, means 200,000 migrants are needed annually to keep the economy afloat in both skilled and unskilled sectors.
It criticised both Labour and the Conservatives for refusing to be honest with the public about the level of migration the UK requires.
Chief executive Gurnek Bains said: “In this general election political leaders have failed to challenge the assumption that less immigration would be good for Britain.
“There are now political leaders from across the political spectrum who either pretend lower immigration will solve every problem or connive in this deceit. These politicians are not only selling voters short – they are selling our country short too.”
In agriculture, the report said that 22,000 of the 115,000-strong permanent workforce come from the EU, supplemented by 60,000 seasonal workers.
It said the labour crisis is “likely to become acute in the short term”, without early commitment from ministers in Brexit talks about the UK’s plans for EU residents and immigration.
The net migration target recommended by Global Future is in line with actual levels from 2000 onwards, the Guardian reported.