Monday

23rd Sep 2019

UK government backtracks on foreign workers lists

  • The Tory government wants to encourage companies to hire British workers

The UK government has announced a u-turn on a plan forcing firms to draw up lists of foreign workers.

"This is not going to happen," defence secretary Michael Fallon told BBC on Sunday (9 October).

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He added that firms could be asked "simply to report their numbers".

The data would be used to assess the labour market and encourage companies to hire British workers.

"What I can absolutely rule out is that we will not be asking companies to list or publish or name or identify in any way the number of foreign workers they have," Fallon said.

The controversial idea was announced by home secretary Amber Rudd at the Conservative Party conference last Tuesday (5 October), and drew strong criticism.

Even the UKIP, which campaigned for Brexit with a hard line on immigration, said the plan went "too far".

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer said on Saturday that plans to “shame” companies who employ foreigners would be branded “fascist” had they been advocated by his party.

Steve Hilton, a former adviser to ex-prime minister David Cameron, writing in the Sunday Times condemned the policy as repugnant and divisive. He had suggested that ministers might as well announce that “foreign workers will be tattooed with numbers on their forearms”.

Diane Abbott, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said the Tories were in "disarray".

In the meantime, businesses continue to worry over the implications of Brexit.

A poll taken more than three months after the referendum said that 88 percent of finance officers feel their businesses are facing abnormally high levels of uncertainty. In the immediate wake of the 23 June vote, the figure was 92 percent, the Guardian wrote.

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UK ministers spoke of hiring “British citizens first” and of deporting “EU criminals” on the third day of a Tory party conference in Birmingham.

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EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he is not emotionally attached to the Irish backstop, but workable solutions are required to keep the peace on the island.

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