UK wages if we leave the EU: what Stuart Rose actually said
21st Jun 2016
“Dimbleby: The leader of your campaign, Lord Rose, the former head of Marks and Spencer, gave evidence and said the price of labour will frankly go up if we leave the EU, so people will be better off if we leave the EU.
Cameron: That is, the overwhelming majority of experts –
Dimbleby: He’s your leader… I’m sorry why did he say this – is it not true?
Cameron: If you actually look at the full context of what he said it’s much more complicated.
Dimbleby: It’s not I have it here, I can read it to you… [Reads from script]
Moving on to the issue of immigration and the impact on wages very briefly, if free movement were to end following Brexit, is it not reasonable to suppose that we could see increases in wages for low-skilled workers in the UK, just off the back of the economic impact of free movement on wages?
Lord Rose: If you are short of labour, the price of labour will go up, so yes, but that is not necessarily a good thing.
Cameron: But then he goes on to say a whole load of other things…”
BBC Question Time, 20 June 2016 [38:20]
David Dimbleby has taken Stuart Rose’s claim out of context. He did not say that wages would necessarily go up and that people would be better off if we left the EU.
You can watch Stuart Rose’s answer to the Treasury Select Committee yourself, here, at timecode 16:01:34.
Stuart Rose conceded that if there are fewer workers available then businesses will be prepared to pay higher wages, according to mainstream economic theory.
“If you are short of labour, the price of labour will go up, so yes, but that is not necessarily a good thing.”
Lord Stuart Rose, 2 June 2016
He did not seem to predict that immigration would fall and UK wages would rise in the event of a vote to leave.