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Exclusive: Brightest and best migrants will still come to East Anglia, says Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May, whose Brexit letter has been made public. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire.

Theresa May, whose Brexit letter has been made public. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire.

Britain will welcome the “brightest and the best” migrant workers to the region post-Brexit, the prime minister has said as she launches her 10-point industrial strategy to create an “economy that works for everyone”.

Theresa May said she recognised the strength of Norwich’s university and science sector and insisted that new immigration rules would see migrant workers continue to flow into Britain from Europe.

There are fears highly-skilled scientists could leave Britain following the European Union departure and the region’s farmers and food producers also fear the impact the Brexit vote could have on their ability to recruit the thousands of Eastern European workers who are filling vacancies they are unable to fill in Britain.

At a select committee last week, MPs were told applications for seasonal work had halved since the same time last year. Mrs May said the referendum vote had been about “taking control”.

“Part of that was control of our immigration from the European Union into the UK and what people want is for the British government to decide what those rules are. That is what we will do in the future.

“But I also said in my speech on Tuesday is that of course immigrants from Europe will continue to come into the UK. We will continue to welcome the brightest and the best.

“I recognise the contribution that people coming from the EU into the UK have made to our economy and society already. We will continue to welcome people in the future. What the public voted for was for the decisions and the rules on those movements to be made by the British government.

On the status of low-skilled labour, she said they were “looking at the arrangements that will be in place for the immigration rules we will set up once we are outside the European Union”.

“The Home Office is doing a lot of work on that. There are a variety of ways in which we could set that system up.

“We obviously hear from businesses, we also hear from farmers, we also hear from the food industry which I know is of particular importance in East Anglia and their concern about the ability to have the right workforce.

“Obviously we take those into account. What I want to ensure with what we are doing when we leave the European Union is building that truly global Britain and through this industrial strategy we are able to see the economy working for everyone in every part of the United Kingdom.”

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