Britain backtracks on listing foreign workers

Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.
Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • The British government has stepped back 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 yesterday, 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 that closed last Wednesday. 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 European Union referendum campaign was dominated by the issue of immigration and Mrs 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.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2016, with the headline 'Britain backtracks on listing foreign workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe