London Mayor Boris Johnson has warned that very low immigration to the UK could have major consequences for the economy in the future.
Mr Johnson, tipped as a potential future leader of the Conservative Party, spoke out during a three-day trade mission to Japan.
He said the Japanese economy had suffered a long period of stagnation and pointed out that the country has very low levels of immigration. He compared this to what could happen in the UK.
“One of the questions that people in Britain might think about is obviously that they have very, very low immigration and very, very low, in fact negative, population growth, they have got a shrinking population,” said Mr Johnson.
“That has, of course, contributed to the long period of economic stagnation they are going through, but that has got to be seen in context.”
Mr Johnson is known for standing up for the benefits of immigration, despite many in his party demanding tougher action to reduce the numbers of UK visas that are issued for overseas nationals to settle in the UK. Home Secretary Theresa May used her recent Tory Party Conference speech to attack immigration.
Meanwhile, Chancellor George Osborne, who is also known to have more liberal views about immigration, has been working to limit migration from EU states, The Guardian reported.
Mr Osborne said the UK is aiming to reduce migration as part of negotiations with the EU.
He said: “We are looking for substantive changes to our relationship with the European Union, to reflect the fact that we are not in the euro, that reflect our concerns about migration and people coming into our country just to claim our welfare payments … and reflect our concerns about Britain to be tied into an ever closed union.”