David Cameron’s ex-director of strategy has called for Amber Rudd to be sacked over her plan to “name-and-shame” companies who hire foreign workers.
Steve Hilton said the scheme’s announcement had had a “big impact on Britain’s reputation around the world” and would be a “mistake” if implemented.
“Theresa May needs to send a really clear signal to the world that this idea, that has been noticed around the world of forcing companies to name and shame foreign workers, was a mistake,” he said on ITV’s The Agenda.
“A powerful way to do that would be to move the minister who made the announcement... I think it’s important to correct this mistake because it has had a big impact on Britain’s reputation around the world.”
Hilton later clarified his comments, saying he believed the policy was Downing Street’s, not Rudd’s, but that she needed to be replaced as home secretary to show the government had understood it made a “mistake”.
Hilton inflamed the row that has been brewing in Westminster, after several minister appeared to water down how tough the policy would be on business.
It was originally touted as a way to identify and improve skills shortages in parts of the country where Britons made up less of the workforce.
But both Justine Greening and Michael Fallon came out a week after Rudd’s Conservative conference address to suggest her plan would change.
A Home Office spokesman previously said: “This is not about listing foreign workers or so-called naming and shaming of companies.
“The proportion of international workers in a company is one of the pieces of information that companies may be asked to provide to the Government.
“This information will not be published. This already happens in the US and is one of several proposals we will be consulting on as part of our work to ensure that companies take reasonable steps to recruit at home before looking to bring in workers from abroad.”
Hilton, who campaigned to leave the EU, also warned last night that Theresa May was heading for a “closed Brexit”.
He described her actions in the run up to triggering Article 50 early next year as “dangerous” and “pessimistic, negative and dark”.