In an article for the Evening Standard, Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of the clothing retailer, said the debate about immigration triggered by the shortage of HGV drivers risked slipping back “to referendum battle lines, with politicians becoming increasingly irrational, entrenched and divided”.
While the Government has announced plans to relax immigration controls to allow 5,000 foreign drivers into Britain to help speed up supplies, the Prime Minister has said ministers would not “reach for the lever called uncontrolled immigration”.
But Lord Wolfson, a prominent Brexiteer who nevertheless argued against reducing immigration, said businesses should be allowed to hire staff from overseas to fill gaps in return for paying a visa tax.
He said: “My worry is that our political leaders will get so caught up in the heat of the argument that they will miss the solution.
“The answer is to create a demand-led system, that allows the needs of our economy to pull in the talent we really need.”
He added that by allowing businesses to assess which skills were needed, it would take the pressure off the Government to decide which workers should be eligible to work in the UK.