The chairman of inbound travel industry association UKinbound has made an impassioned plea for politicians to “stand up to anti-immigration rhetoric”.
UKinbound chairman Mark McVay told the association’s annual convention in Leicester yesterday: “We, like the NHS, depend on overseas workers.
“The free flow of immigration across Europe is vital.”
He said: “I wish one of the political parties would stand up against the anti-immigration rhetoric, which is damaging.”
McVay was speaking on the day Office for National Statistics figures revealed 2014 was a record year for UK inbound tourism.
In a direct reference to remarks by UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage last year, McVay said: “I don’t mind what language the person next to me on a train or bus speaks.
“I grew up when Britain was more homogeneous and cafes and restaurants were dreadful. Look at how diverse we are now. Britain is young and dynamic.”
He insisted: “Please let there be someone who will speak up for immigration and lets get away from this Little Britain mentality.”
McVay said: “It is unthinkable that a government could think any global industry could not make use of a global workforce.”
Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe, a member of the parliamentary select committee on culture, media and sport, agreed. He said: “Immigration is positive for the country. We should be positive about immigration.”
But secretary of state for education Nicky Morgan said: “People want controlled immigration. They want to know who is coming in.”
UKIP parliamentary candidate William Cash suggested: “If people don’t speak good English, there is a problem.”