Non-British academics told by foreign office Brexit advice not wanted

Amber Rudd proposes businesses should declare proportion of non-UK workers

Britain's foreign office has told non-British academics that it no longer wants their advice on Brexit, citing national security considerations. The move was revealed in a tweet from Sara Hagemann, a Danish-born EU expert at the London School of Economics (LSE).

“UK govt previously sought work & advice from best experts. Just told I & many colleagues no longer qualify as not UK citizens,” she tweeted.

The foreign office did not immediately comment on reports that it had written to the LSE to say it no longer wanted non-British academics working on projects which advised the government on Brexit.

"We believe our academics, including non-UK nationals, have hugely valuable expertise which will be vital in this time of uncertainty around the UK's relationship with Europe and the rest of the world," the LSE said in a statement. "Any changes to security measures are a matter for the UK government."

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The revelation follows a storm of protest over home secretary Amber Rudd's suggestion this week that businesses should be obliged to declare what proportion of their workers were from outside the UK. The business lobby howled in protest, joined by opposition politicians and commentators, one of whom compared the proposal to something from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

By midweek, Rudd was rowing back, saying that the government was not committed to the proposal, which was just one of a number of options under consideration to “nudge” employers towards offering jobs and training to young British workers.

“There is still one in 10 18- 24-year-olds in the UK who are unemployed,” she said. “I want businesses to think first about locally training people where possible . . . and work with us to deliver what we need to have which is a more skilled local labour force.”

Ms Rudd acknowledged that there was nothing Britain could do to restrict immigration from the European Union until it actually left the union, probably in early 2019. However the suggestion that companies could be "named and shamed" for employing workers from other EU countries provoked outrage in some European capitals.

The Irish embassy in London said on Friday it had received no inquiries from Irish citizens about the issue, but added that the position of Irish citizens in the UK was a key priority for the Government. “Both the Irish and British governments value the common travel area, recognise the reciprocal benefits it provides to our respective citizens and will work to keep it in place to the greatest extent possible as part of future arrangements,” it said.

"Prime minister May and the Taoiseach both stated this clearly when they met in London in July and this shared commitment has been reaffirmed in all subsequent contacts between both governments."

Hundreds of thousands of Irish-born people work in Britain, 13,000 of them in the National Health Service, where the Irish are the third largest non-British nationality in the workforce. Irish workers are also a major part of the workforce in construction, hospitality and education. At the top end of the earnings scale, 5,000 Irish people work in the City of London and there are more than 60,000 Irish directors of British companies.

Some Irish people in Britain have commented on social media and elsewhere this week that they feel less welcome in Britain following Rudd’s comments.

Although citizens of other EU member states have been subject to verbal harassment and physical attacks since June’s EU referendum, there is no evidence of such hostility towards the Irish in Britain.

The Irish embassy in London confirmed on Friday that it has not yet received a single report of harassment or violence against Irish citizens in the wake of the Brexit vote.