Rainy Night in Brexit

UK Home Office won't say if Irish people will be exempt from controversial list of foreign workers

Home Secretary Amber Rudd wants to make companies list their non-British staff.

pjimage (7) Irish stars in the UK: broadcaster Graham Norton, Niall Horan of One Direction and comedian Dara Ó Briain. PA / PA / /

THE UK’S HOME Office has declined to say if Irish workers will be exempt from the British Government’s plan to draw up a list of foreign workers.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has proposed that UK companies hand the Government a list of all foreign workers it employs, in a plan designed to ensure British workers get preference for any new jobs.

The proposal, outlined in Rudd’s speech to the Conservative Party conference this week, is intended to pressure companies to take on more local workers and to “prevent migrants taking jobs [that] British people can do”.

The move has drawn fierce criticism from business leaders, media and a slew of high-profile EU nationals living in the UK.

It is part of a raft of measures designed to control immigration, including sweeping new restrictions on overseas students, a £140m “controlling migration fund”, an anti-immigrant clampdown on taxi drivers and landlords, and a sharp rise in deportations for foreigners who commit offences.

While the full details of the plan have yet to be published the measures, if enacted, are believed to be designed for all non-British workers, including citizens of all EU countries like the Republic of Ireland.

The plan would initially apply to non-EU workers, before being extended to all non-UK staff upon the completion of Brexit. The Government refused to exempt Irish workers when pressed by

A spokesman for Downing Street referred the matter to the British Home Office.

Asked whether citizens of the Republic of Ireland will be exempt from the list of “non-British” workers the UK government wants to draw up, a spokesman for the Home Office said: ”Further details will be set out in the consultation document.”

Professor Louise Richardson comments Waterford woman Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University. Danny Lawson Danny Lawson


The Home Office did say, however, that the Irish citizens would be exempt from the plan to ramp up deportations – mainly because the lack of visa controls would make it unworkable.

“The changes to the Regulations will not affect Irish nationals or anyone of dual Irish and another nationality,” the spokesman told

There are close historical, community and political ties between the UK and the Irish Republic, and the two nations are united by the Common Travel Area.

Citizens of other countries, however, face deportation for even minor offences such as possession of small quantities of drugs, they added.

Each case will be considered on its merits,” the Home Office said in a statement.

We are clear that it is not just serious criminality like sexual offences or murder which has a harmful effect on society, but petty crime such as shoplifting, pick-pocketing or low level drugs offences – our new framework reflects that.

The measures have provoked uproar in Britain, not least among high-profile foreign nationals living in the UK, including Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, who tweeted “Should we all be racist now, United Kingdom”, in reference to a line in the sitcom.

SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie called on the British government to “categorically state that the freedom of Irish people to live and work in Britain will not be curtailed”.

With over six million people in Britain claiming Irish heritage, this interpretation of Rudd’s right wing populism is, to put it mildly, ridiculous. It is particularly farcical given the flood of British people now rushing to get their hands on an Irish passport.

Bargaining chips

The proposals urging employers to publish a record of how many non-British citizens they hire come hot on the heels of the British Government’s refusal to guarantee the rights of Europeans living in the UK after Brexit.

The tilt rightwards has sparked widespread condemnation, even from the Conservative press.

The Financial Times daily commentary service offered up a list of its foreign staff members, making apologies for the Pole, the Iraqi, the three Americans and one “fucking Irishman” on its staff.

We’re not going to wait to be ‘nudged’ by Home Secretary Amber Rudd on this, we’re getting one step ahead of our jackbooted overlords.

James Kirkup, executive editor (politics) of The Telegraph newspaper  - previously dubbed the in-flight magazine of the Conservative Party – said:

Is it really too much to expect the head of our government to address the most pressing issue of the day by leading, not pandering?

Bargaining chips

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

Theresa May’s vision of Brexit Britain is a deeply ugly one – a country where people are judged not by their ability or their contribution to the common good but by their birthplace or by their passport.

Tamara Rojo, the Spanish artistic director and principal dancer at the English National Ballet, added:

After 20 years contributing to this great country and been recognised with a CBE how long before I am made to sew a star on my clothes?

Christoph Thoenissen of the University of Sheffield, who grew up in Germany, France and the United States, said:

Just been promoted from Professor of Economics to UK Brexit bargaining chip. I love this place.

Badge of shame

Business leaders see it as the tipping point in a Brexit-inspired recession. Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

A lot of businesses would be saddened if they felt having a global workforce was somehow seen as a badge of shame.

Ellani, a shopping shopping centre investor, said it will refuse to co-operate with the proposal. Owner Mark Robinson said:

The most nasty, racist, reactionary bit of employment law since 1930s Germany… Ellandi will categorically refuse to list foreign workers.

Philip Marshall, joint head of chambers at London’s 1 King’s Bench Walk family law firm said:

This is utterly abhorrent and has echoes from history that I find chilling. As a lawyer and as an employer I will refuse to comply with it.

German chancellor Angela Merkel warned of a “difficult situation” if restrictions are imposed upon free movement of people.

Read: The UK Government wants to draw up a list of all ‘non-British’ workers

Read: Graham Norton, Niall Horan, Arsene Wenger: UK’s naughty list of foreign workers would contain familiar names

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