“I can’t believe…”

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
13 October 2016

I can’t quite believe some of the items I’ve heard in the news about immigration; from naming of foreign workers to Tony Blair chipping in with his ten cents.

Theresa May’s plans to force naming of foreign workers

At the Conservative party conference, Theresa May’s ministers laid out a plan to force companies to publish a list of foreign workers, curb international students and prioritise home grown doctors. The Prime Minister herself declared – anyone who considered themselves citizens of the world was a ‘citizen of nowhere’. Thankfully the first Minister of Scotland took a very different approach. She denounced the Conservative’s toxic rhetoric in a joint statement with the leaders of the Green and Plaid Cymru Parties, arguing the Scottish are stronger for the diversity that shapes them, and that they are one Scotland- “home to all those who have chosen to live here”.

She urged the Scots to celebrate the difference and to treat others with respect.

The Conservatives then backtracked on their statement

As I was writing this blog, the Guardian published on 9th October that the Government is now going to abandon their plans to force businesses to reveal how many foreign staff they employ, following widespread condemnation and accusations that the policy was akin to tattooing workers with numbers on their forearms. Justine Greening, the Education Secretary announced companies would not be made to publish the data – as was previously suggested. Amber Rudd said the information would be confidential and would instead used by Government to identify skill shortages rather than naming and shaming business which rely on foreign employees.

Defending her speech, Rudd said that she did not explicitly say that the information would be published, she then said: “I don’t think there should be a situation where we can’t talk about immigration. We must not ignore the fact that people want to talk about immigration, and if we do talk about immigration, don’t call me a racist.”

Reacting to this change in policy, Diane Abbott Labour Shadow Home Secretary said: “The Tories are in disarray following Amber Rudd’s worrying statement, contradicting each other as their policy falls apart at the seams.

“The Tory’s anti-foreign agenda is a distraction from their own complete failure of policy and against the best interests of society.”

This came on top of the news that all foreign doctors will be kicked out of the NHS and there will be tough visa rules for international students who want to study in the UK.

I can’t accept that being part of a global workforce is something to be ashamed of. Do workers really want to be divided from their co-workers based on where they are from? Shouldn’t all workers get fair and equal treatment?

As an immigration practitioner I cannot forget Theresa May’s active role, when she was Home Secretary, in creating this atmosphere. I remember the “go home” vans she had driven around the streets of the United Kingdom targeting people who look foreign. Theresa May stated in 2012 that she wanted to make Britain a hostile environment and now she has the power to do exactly that.

Tony Blair

I am puzzled that the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, wants to return to a frontline role in British politics, to try to prevent Theresa May’s Conservative party from bringing to life the hard Brexit “and in doing so destroying the country”, to use his own words. Tony Blair was the Prime Minister to win three General Elections and was popular during the start of his 10 years in power, but the US led invasion of Iraq tarnished his reputation. In an interview with the Esquire Magazine, Blair said it was a tragedy that Britons were left with a choice between a Conservative party intent on a hard Brexit and a Labour party which he described as ultra-Left and stuck in the 1960s. Blair has said Corbyn offered “a mixture of fantasy and error” and as a result he said Britain was a one party state. What are the chances for Blair of forging a new major role – after a seven-year inquiry delivered a verdict in July 2016 on his handling and justification for the Iraq War, with many Britons believing he should face criminal action?

We are also aware how Theresa May’s approach has spooked investors, who may now think that Britain is heading for a hard Brexit. Their unease has triggered the deepest political and financial turmoil in Britain since World War II.

Ms Merkel, who spoke to German business leaders, stressed the UK would not get full access to the European Union’s single market without fully accepting the four basic principles of the block: Freedom of goods, freedom of services, capital and people.

“If they don’t say that full access to the internal market is connected to complete access of the four basic principles, then the process will unfold in Europe where everyone does and is allowed to do what they want,” she said.

Fearing other countries would step forward with their own demands, European leaders have stressed that the UK must respect the principles if it wants to keep full access to trading without restrictions of tariff. Ms Merkel’s warning signals that Germany is unwilling to make big concessions (although it is one of the most sympathetic EU members towards the UK). She also repeated her warning that there wouldn’t be any talks with the UK over its exit before the formal process had begun.

Brexit raises national security issues

I can’t believe foreign academics at a leading British university have been barred from offering advice on Brexit because of “national security” excuses. A message sent by the Foreign Office informed that staff at the London School of Economics that their contribution to Government analysis and reports was no longer wanted. The Foreign Office is believed to dispute this claim, but this move was condemned by Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat’s EU spokesman, who said: “It is utterly baffling that the Government is turning down experts, independent advice on Brexit simply because someone is from another country.

“This is more evidence of the Conservative’s alarming embrace of petty chauvinism over rational policy making.”

This decision comes despite Britain’s well-advertised lack of trade negotiators which could threaten its ability to carry out detailed and protracted talks with the remaining EU countries.