Cabinet rift on jobs 'racism'

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The Independent Online

Gillian Shephard, the Education and Employment Secretary, is blocking moves by Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, to introduce sanctions against employers who hire illegal immigrants, because she believes the move is potentially racist.

In a letter written last Tuesday and copied to John Major, she warns that the proposed measures could lead to greater racial discrimination by some employers: "There is a danger that employers will concentrate checks on prospective employees whom they see as a risk, if not simply exclude them from consideration for the job ... Either way there could be racial discrimination or in some cases discrimination against EC nationals, contrary to the treaty."

The Home Office refused last night to comment on the row, revealed in leaked correspondence from Mrs Shepherd to Mr Howard, according to the Guardian.

Mr Howard will be embarrassed by the affair as he had hoped to win agreement for the sanctions at today's Cabinet meeting. He had been expected to confirm the measures at the Tory party conference in Blackpool next week.