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Theresa May faces a backlash over proposals to clamp down on low-skilled workers after Brexit which British businesses have labelled as potentially “disastrous”.

The proposals in a government-commissioned report suggest blocking almost all of the workers from coming to the UK, with a new immigration system focused solely on attracting high-skilled staff.

But employers in both the public and private sectors warned that cutting off access to low-skilled workers would have dire consequences for the NHS, social care and the construction, food and hospitality sectors.

It came amid wider unrest in the business community, as British-based carmakers all warned of the dangers of failing to secure an adequate Brexit deal, with BMW confirming it would close its Mini plant for several weeks after Brexit to minimise potential losses from disruption.

The prime minister is expected to use her Conservative Party conference speech in Birmingham in just over two weeks to set out her vision for post-Brexit immigration, with pressure to move away from a system of arbitrary caps growing – including from The Independent, which has been running its Drop the Target campaign for the government to ditch its goal of lowering net migration to the tens of thousands.

On Tuesday, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), whose recommendations will feed into government proposals, suggested there should be no cap on “tier 2” visas for skilled individuals coming from anywhere in the world, including the European Economic Area (EEA) – but routes for low-skilled workers to enter the UK should be all but cut off.

Jane Gratton, head of business at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “From the perspective of businesses facing severe skills gaps, the MAC’s report gives with one hand and takes away with the other, and the recommendations are unlikely to meet the needs of all employers. Read more

Related news: Give Britain a new referendum on Brexit, says Sadiq Khan. Read more