The new President of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Marcus Bowman, has made a passionate defence of immigration on his first day in office.
Speaking in his inaugural address to shipping leaders last week, Bowman, who is South African born and a partner at London maritime law firm Holman Fenwick Willan, said: “The UK has been at the heart of world trade from the outset. But increasingly, the way we as a country debate our place in the modern world runs contrary to the internationalist approach of the shipping industry.
“As a South African, I came to the UK because it is the natural home for maritime law. Nowhere in the world would have offered me better career opportunities.
“Contrary to what we are sometimes are told, the UK is a welcoming country for immigrants – particularly to the vast majority who contribute their skills, experience and knowledge for the betterment both of themselves, and of their adopted country. I would not be here if that was not the case.
“So we must not allow the immigration debate to descend into a slinging match.
“The UK’s status as a world leading maritime power will be diminished if companies cannot attract the brightest and best from around the world. If visas are too hard to come by, if training opportunities become too narrow, if we close our borders, then our days are numbered as an influential country.
“Immigration can be a good thing; an important thing. Yes we have to be careful, I understand that. But this country was made great because it looked outwards, because it confidently took its place in the world. If Government has an inward looking immigration policy that cuts us off from the world, then we will lose sight of the big picture.”
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