U.K. Government Under Fire Over Name And Shame Plan For Foreign Workers

Polish Citizens EU Referendum
The Jaasia Polski Skelp (Jaasia Polish Shop) in Stockport, U.K. on March 25, 2015. Theresa May is searching for a way to control immigration after Brexit. NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The British government has come under heavy fire from business and political opponents to its left and right over a controversial plan to force firms to publish details of its workers' backgrounds.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference Tuesday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government would launch a consultation on forcing companies to disclose the proportion of "international" staff on their books.

She said foreign workers should not be able to "take the jobs that British people should do."

Sorry, but no, we're not having this. pic.twitter.com/HcOO8mIgaF

— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) October 5, 2016

But Britain's business establishment hit back hard. "It would be a sad day if having a global workforce was seen as a badge of shame," Adam Marshall, acting director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said.

"It does not tell you anything about what the company is doing to train up their U.K. workforce or the effort and lengths they have made to recruit in the UK before turning overseas."

Speaking to BBC radio Wednesday, Rudd stressed that the plan was only a consultation and said the government wanted to work with business to find a mutually agreeable solution.

The Tories have broken their own promise on immigration #CPC16 pic.twitter.com/kxZ5a0IPDR

— Labour Press (@labourpress) October 4, 2016

And Arron Banks, a UKIP donor with a generally tough stance on immigration, said the idea was misguided.

"This is a terrible idea. Immigration is a good thing but we need sensible controls with net immigration no more than 50k a year," he tweeted.

Britain's Labour Party sent conflicting messages on the move. Andy Burnham, the party's shadow home secretary, tweeted his opposition (see above).

But the party's press team was criticized by some liberal supporters for implying the Conservatives were not tough enough on immigration, after its official press account tweeted only that "the Tories have broken their own promise on immigration."