Show Hide image The Staggers 5 January 2017 The Brexit ministers who just realised reducing immigration is a problem for them Turns out there's a teeny tiny hiccup with reducing immigration... Sign up to the Staggers Morning Call email * Print HTML During the EU referendum campaign, Brexit charmer-in-chief Andrea Leadsom told The Guardian that immigration from EU countries could “overwhelm” Britain, and that her constituents complained about not hearing English spoken on the street. But speaking to farmers in 2017 as Environment secretary, Leadsom said she knew “how important seasonal labour from the EU is, to the everyday running of your businesses”. She said she was committed to making sure farmers “have the right people with the right skills”. Doesn’t sound like the door is shutting on low-paid, seasonal workers then. But the government has committed to reducing immigration. So are the other departments pitching in to help out? The Staggers decided to find out. A strange pattern emerged. Ministers were quick to criticise immigration, but oddly enough, when it came to their own department, they seemed far more reticent. Here are what some have been saying. Sajid “Bob the Builder” Javid The Communities secretary Sajid Javid backed the Remain campaign like his mentor George Osborne, but when he was offered a job in the Brexit government, he took it. Javid has criticised immigrants who don’t integrate, but it seems there is one group he doesn’t have any qualms about - the construction workers who build the homes that fall under his remit. As early as September, Javid was telling the FT he wouldn’t let any pesky UK border red tape get between him and foreign workers needed to meet his housebuilding targets. Philip “Citizen of the World” Hammond So if you can’t kick out builders, what about that perennially unpopular group of workers, bankers? Not so fast, says Philip Hammond. Just three months after Brexit, he said the government would use immigration controls “in a sensible way that will facilitate the movement of highly-skilled people between financial institutions and businesses”. As a Chancellor who personally backed Remain, Hammond is painfully aware of the repercussions if the City decamps to the Continent. Greg “Brightest and Best” Clark The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy secretary backed Remain, and has kept his head down since winning the meaty new industrial brief. Nevertheless, he seems willing to weigh in on the immigration cap debate, at least on behalf of international students. Asked whether the post-study work visa pilot should continue, Clark said the government wanted to attract the brightest and best. He continued: "We have visa arrangements in place so that people can work in graduate jobs after that, and it is important that they should be able to do so." Jeremy "The Doctor" Hunt The Health secretary kept his job in the turmoil of the summer, and used his conference speech to toe the party line with a pledge that the NHS would rely on less foreign medical staff in future. The problem is, Hunt has alienated junior doctors by imposing an unpopular contract, and even those wannabe medics that do sign up will have to undergo half a decade of studying first. Asked about where he plans to find NHS workers in Parliament, Hunt declared: “No one from either side of the Brexit debate has ever said there will be no immigration post-Brexit.” He also remained “confident” that the UK would be able to negotiate a deal that allowed the 127,000 EU citizens working for the NHS to stay. So it turns out we might need agriculture and construction workers, plus students, medics and even bankers after all. It's a good thing the government already has a Brexit plan sorted out... › What does new EU ambassador Tim Barrow mean for the Brexit negotiations? Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. Subscribe More Related articles I represent a Leave constituency - but I want to delay triggering Brexit The SNP thinks it knows how to kill hard Brexit Supreme Court gives MPs a vote on Brexit – but who are the real winners?