McDonalds to create 5,000 new jobs because of Brexit

In the run up to the referendum we were warned that a vote to leave the EU would lead to a significant rise in unemployment but today McDonalds announced it is creating 5,000 jobs.

The company needs more people because of a £600m investment its franchise managers are making, overhauling its 1,250 British restaurants. It's an investment that the UK chief executive, Paul Pomroy, told me is being accelerated because of the vote to Leave.

We now know that the British economy was growing pretty robustly in the three months leading up to the referendum but most economists believe that the uncertainty Brexit throws up means we are now heading for a recession, however brief and shallow.

McDonalds sailed through the last downturn and has experienced 10 years of uninterrupted sales growth but Pomroy says the result of the referendum has unsettled customers and staff.

"People still want to eat out and treat themselves," he said, "but post an event like Brexit their demands are heightened. They're feeling more fragile in terms of their confidence and so we need to keep investing."

The jobs McDonalds is creating are a mix of full and part-time positions and most will pay just above the National Living Wage but Pomroy says the company expects to fill them easily. It currently receives 3,000 job applications a day.

Around 12,000 of the company's 110,000 staff are EU nationals, born outside the UK. With the terms and conditions of Britain's departure from the EU unclear, Pomroy says some are worried they will not be allowed to stay.

"I think my job is to reassure them that as of now McDonald's is here as a credible employer, their jobs are safe," he said. There are just over two million EU nationals working in Britain today. Would he back the CBI call for the government to guarantee their right to remain? He wouldn't say.

"I want government to get the best deal possible for the UK economy and that will mean we don't have a real change in the fluctuation in the people we have working here. If they can make sure the UK is open for business, open for people so we attract the best people to our country but also allow our people to prosper while they're here, that's really important to me."

McDonalds gives us a snapshot from a part of one sector of the British economy. Today we've heard from significant others: ITV posted a healthy set of results but expects advertising revenue to fall slightly in the year ahead; Taylor Wimpey said the demand for new homes remains "solid"; the pharmaceutical firm GSK says it intends to invest a further £275 million in its British operations despite having backed the Remain campaign.

This is upbeat and encouraging stuff but last week's PMI survey provided compelling evidence that business confidence more widely has been damaged and that the economy since the referendum is probably shrinking. Before the vote the Treasury forecast Brexit would trigger job losses, price rises, a fall in wages and a slump in house prices. It's far too soon to be confident that these things won't come to pass.