Thursday 8 December 2016

Microsoft boss warns about post-Brexit immigration rules

Published 03/10/2016 | 13:31

Microsoft's Brad Smith
Microsoft's Brad Smith

The president of Microsoft has expressed caution about investing in a post-Brexit United Kingdom, saying the tech giant will have to “adapt” to the UK’s ’hard exit’ from the European Union.

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Speaking in Dublin to the Irish Independent, Brad Smith said that "the single most important factor will be the ability to bring some of the world’s most important talent to work in the United Kingdom".

He said that it’s “too early to be concerned and it's too early to be sanguine” about British Prime Minister Theresa May’s stated intention to pull the UK out of the European single market and tighten immigration laws.

“We'll have to adapt,” he said, referring to UK company facilities that employ thousands of people. “I hope that we'll continue to be able to bring to the UK talent from across Europe and from around the world.”

Tech companies have expressed concern about a tightening up of immigration laws in the UK, warning that it could affect their investment plans there.

On Sunday, British Prime Minister May outlined a tough stance on immigration after her country’s upcoming withdrawal from the European Union.

“We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully independent, sovereign country,” she said. “We will do what independent, sovereign countries do. We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration. And we will be free to pass our own laws.”

Microsoft boss Smith, who is also the company’s chief legal counsel, said that the tech giant will “see how it unfolds” before becoming “concerned”.

“We will simply have to follow what goes on there,” he said. "The UK's an important country. We have committed to two data centres there."

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