Nicola Horlick, a Lib Dem supporter and company CEO, suggested it would be disastrous for the NHS if Britain stopped accepting European Union migrants, while former CBI chief and Brexiteer Lord Digby Jones demanded Britain accept only the best and brightest migrants from around the world.
Lord Jones, who is a cross-bench peer, told Daily Politics host Jo Coburn the Brexit vote was driven by sovereignty and in turn an end to free movement of labour.
He said: “Let’s deal with the reality of one thing, we can all have a conversation about what the 52 per cent want.
“Did they want the ‘hard’ Brexit, ‘soft’ Brexit, single market or not – but one thing they did want is to end free movement of labour.
“You can’t have the single market and not have free movement of people.
“The driver was about sovereignty, wasn’t it? You can have it shown up as free movement of
“You can have it shown up as free movement of labour, you can have it shown up as do your judges have to take it from a judge in Luxembourg, but at the end of the day this was about trying to get control of your country back.”
He added: “Single market means – whatever the Remoaners say – you don’t have that.”
This prompted a fiery response from Ms Horlick who blasted back: “You can’t say that of the 52 per cent, a certain number didn’t want free movement of people or a certain number felt that sovereignty was the key issue.
“We just simply don’t know the answer to that question.
“Therefore the Government taking a hardline and saying: ‘it is clear people don’t want free movement of people’ is wrong.
“The fact is, Theresa May was the Home Secretary during her period in office – she did not control immigration.
“The number of non-EU immigrants coming into this country last year was exceptionally high.
“The figures are already distorted by the fact that we’ve for some reason decided to include students…”
At this point Lord Jones interjected: “Nicola, the one thing you will agree with me on is this nation is richer and makes more money from dipping into the reservoir of talent from around the world.
“Immigration is a good thing for this nation – if it comes from around the world.
“Your problem is by saying, ‘I can’t do anything about who comes from Europe. To keep it down I have to stop the clever ones coming from the rest of the world,’ – that’s the problem.”
Ms Horlick argued that if the NHS was unable to freely employ European citizens it would be “disastrous” for the service.
She continued: “We haven’t been able to get British consultants and if we were to prevent European citizens coming into this country it would be disastrous.”
Lord Jones rebuked: “Answer my question, though! Who said we would prevent them? We could take more if we could stop the unskilled ones coming from Europe.
“So, we end up with skilled workers from Europe and skilled workers from everywhere else, what is wrong with that?”