FROM care homes and construction sites to coffee shops and farms, some parts of the UK economy rely heavily on migrant workers.

A blueprint for a post-Brexit immigration policy, as outlined in leaked Home Office documents, would be “catastrophic” for some industries, employers have warned.

The proposals suggest that free movement will end as soon as Brexit is completed, with lower-skilled workers only given two years residency. Senior industry figures have condemned the proposal, saying it would leave them short-staffed.

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The potential risk to the economy is most acute in London where 13 per cent of the workforce are EU-born migrants. Should we in the North also be concerned by the prospect of fewer overseas workers in Britain?

One obvious risk is that if the flow of labour from the EU dried up then London would increasingly turn to the English regions to fill its job vacancies. This could see more people from the North-East – many of whom we would want to stay and help drive our own economic growth – tempted south for work.

The idea that the draft policy will force bosses to put British workers first has obvious appeal, but is that a realistic aim when overseas workers fill shortages, such as those in the NHS and the building trade, which would take decades and major investments in training to overcome? There is also a risk it would create a black market, encouraging bad bosses to exploit migrants with low paid cash-in-hand deals or shift jobs offshore, for example to the Far East, where wages are lower.

If the leaked draft becomes policy it would fly in the face of the PM’s assurances of a transitional deal to protect British interests. Falling off a migration cliff edge in two years time could result in an almighty crash.