Economist Jim O’Neill tells businesses “immigrants are needed to drive growth”

Former Goldman Sachs economist warned of consequences of EU departure at event which looked at future of Britain's economy

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Jim O’Neill, the former chief economist of Goldman Sachs, today led a statement to Britain’s business leaders that the country “needs immigrants” to drive economic growth.

Speaking at SUMMIT: The Future of Growth this morning, the economist commented:

“British people don’t seem to like immigration and it’s strange to me. You need skilled immigrants to contribute to economic growth. […] there’s something wrong going on in society [with regard to attitudes to immigration]”

Held at Bloomberg’s London headquarters, SUMMIT is the second annual event hosted by Seven Hills which looks to bring together innovators and entrepreneurs to explore sectors and trends driving explosive growth in the UK economy.

O’Neill, who recently released a report on growth in the UK’s cities, also discussed Apple’s growth in China and predicted that the Northern Powerhouse – chancellor George Osborne’s vision for a prosperous Northern England – could increase Britain’s growth rate by two tenths of a percent.

Fellow panelist and founder of Autonomy and Invoke Capital, Dr Mike Lynch OBE, looked at other challenges facing the UK:

“We are still turning out the best technologists in the world. However, rather like other countries that have vast oil reserves in the ground, we’re not very good at extracting that. When you go somewhere like Silicon Valley, you’ll be surprised at the number of British people who are there, and who have left the UK.”

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