Theresa May is facing a backlash from European leaders over plans to curb migration after France threatened to retaliate against Britons working on the continent.
The Prime Minister and Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, used the conference speeches to announce an immigration crackdown which included plans to force companies to publish the number of foreign workers they employ.
According to Telegraph, Emmanuelle Cosse, France’s housing minister, said that the plans would be a “catastrophe” and said that the policy “raises the issue of reciprocity”, indicating that Britons living abroad could face similar curbs.
Mario Giro, Italy’s deputy foreign minister, appeared to accuse Ms Rudd of racism.
He tweeted a cartoon that appeared in an Italian newspaper in which one character said “it’s a soft start to Brexit”. The other responded: “They’ve starting with racial laws.
Mr Giro told the Financial Times: “This is not the UK that we have always known — it’s the crib of democracy. “This may help for domestic political purposes, but it does not correspond to their tradition.
It’s paradoxical that to distance itself from Europe the UK is looking increasingly like Europe by taking on those tones that we see in eastern Europe.”
However Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, yesterday defended the plans. In an inteview with Bloomberg he said that the referendum decision had been partly driven by concerns about “pressure on wages from the lowest end of the large scale migration, largely from eastern Europe”.
He said that “we have to address that issue,” adding: “The problem is not highly skilled bankers, brain surgeons and engineers.
“You will not find that people have a problem with people with high skills and high earnings coming to the UK. The issue we have to deal with is people with low skills competing for entry-level jobs.”
He added: The UK’s demographics are different from most if not all of our neighbours in Europe.We have a population which is still growing before immigration. For the UK continued low-skilled migration is not the way forward.”