Bri­tain back­tracks over list­ing for­eign work­ers

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

LON­DON: The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment stepped back on Sun­day from a plan to make em­ploy­ers list their for­eign work­ers as it talks tough on im­mi­gra­tion fol­low­ing the Brexit vote, af­ter a back­lash among busi­ness lead­ers.

“We are not go­ing to be ask­ing com­pa­nies to list or name or pub­lish or iden­tify their for­eign work­ers,” de­fence sec­re­tary Michael Fal­lon told BBC ra­dio, say­ing the pro­posal had been “mis­in­ter­preted”.

The idea of mak­ing em­ploy­ers pub­lish a record of how many non-Bri­tish cit­i­zens they hire was floated at the an­nual con­fer­ence of Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s Con­ser­va­tive party, last week.

But it was swiftly and widely con­demned as di­vi­sive and dis­crim­i­na­tory, and the Bri­tish Cham­bers of Com­merce warned against mak­ing a global work­force a “badge of shame”.

Ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary Jus­tine Green­ing said the pro­posal was about “in­form­ing pol­icy so that we un­der­stand which ar­eas and parts of the coun­try there are skills short­ages”.

“This is not data that will be pub­lished. There will be ab­so­lutely no nam­ing and sham­ing,” she told ITV tele­vi­sion.

The EU ref­er­en­dum cam­paign was dom­i­nated by the is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion and May has said that im­pos­ing con­trols on new ar­rivals will be a pri­or­ity in ne­go­ti­a­tions over Brexit.

But EU lead­ers have also made clear that this will not be pos­si­ble if Bri­tain wants con­tin­ued ac­cess to the Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket – which Bri­tish busi­nesses say is vi­tal.

Law­mak­ers con­cerned about the prime min­is­ter’s strat­egy have be­gun mo­bil­is­ing in a bid to force her to give par­lia­ment a vote on her open­ing po­si­tion be­fore for­mal exit talks be­gin with Brus­sels early next year.

The Con­ser­va­tives only have a slim ma­jor­ity in the House of Com­mons, and some pro-Euro­pean MPs in the party are re­port­edly in talks with former Labour leader Ed Miliband over an al­liance that could de­feat the gov­ern­ment.

“The PM must get par­lia­men­tary con­sent for her Brexit ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion. No ref­er­en­dum man­date for hard Brexit nor a Com­mons ma­jor­ity,” Miliband said in a Twit­ter mes­sage. – AFP

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