JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has called on the Prime Minister to introduce a visa scheme that would enable him to recruit workers from the European Union in order to cope with the current recruitment struggles in the hospitality sector.

Martin, who has been a vocal supporter of Brexit, said Boris Johnson should launch a scheme that would help to reduce the pressure on companies, and has suggested that countries geographically closer to the UK could be given preferential treatment, according to The Telegraph.

He told the paper: “The UK has a low birth rate. A reasonably liberal immigration system controlled by those we have elected, as distinct from the EU system, would be a plus for the economy and the country.

“America, Australia and Singapore have benefited for many decades from this approach. Immigration combined with democracy works.”

Commenting on the current shortage of workers in the sector, Robert Cook, chief executive, Fridays, said new rules around hiring staff from the EU, due to Brexit, had come alongside a host of other factors creating “a perfect storm” of reasons that people were not choosing roles in hospitality.

“There’s the arduous process of hiring from the EU and the change of statuses around the new visa process, which is more cumbersome and less user friendly. Other people are not moving back here because of the situation with Covid,” he said.