Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s speech to the Conservative Party conference on foreign workers was treated as a “hate incident” by police.
In her speech in October 2016 the Tory minister proposed tougher rules on foreign workers to stop immigrants coming to the UK “taking jobs British people could do”.
Her comments were reported to West Midlands Police by Joshua Silver, a physics professor at the University of Oxford.
Police have now written to Mr Silver stating the incident “has been recorded in line with the National Police Chiefs’ Council manual as a non-crime hate incident”.
In her speech in Birmingham, Ms Rudd said: “I want us to look again at whether our immigration system provides the right incentives for businesses to invest in British workers.”
She continued: “We will shortly be consulting on the next steps needed to control immigration. We will be looking across work and study routes.
“This will include examining whether we should tighten the test companies have to take before recruiting from abroad. British businesses have driven the economic recovery in this country, with employment at record levels.
“However, we still need to do more so all British people get the opportunities they need to get on in life. The test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do.”
Her speech sparked a backlash and the Conservatives were accused of peddling myths about foreigners taking British people’s jobs.
Professor Silver explained his case on the BBC’s Daily Politics, saying: “I didn’t actually see the speech but I’ve read the draft.
“And I’ve looked at all the feedback that there was to the speech. I’ve read the speech carefully and I’ve looked at all the feedback.
“It’s discriminating against foreigners, you pick on them and say we want to give jobs to British people and not to foreigners. It was interpreted that way.”
But Lord Howard, the former Conservative Home Secretary, said: “Of course it wasn’t a hate incident.
“What Amber Rudd said was no different from Gordon Brown when he said there should be British jobs for British workers.
“I think Mr Silver should be thoroughly ashamed of himself because what he’s doing is to bring a well-intentioned piece of legislation into disrepute.
Prof Silver said he had also looked into a statement by Prime Minister Theresa May in which “she said she was in effect going to expel all foreign doctors”.
Days later the Government U-turned on the plans, which critics said would have included “naming and shaming” firms by making them reveal what proportion of their workforce is foreign.
Ministers said the data collected under the policy would in fact not be made public and would be for internal policymaking purposes only.
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said Mrs Rudd’s comments and the subsequent police action was a sign “of how much this Conservative Brexit Government has abandoned the centre-ground and embraced the politics of Nigel Farage.
“I do have concerns over whether the police should be investigating a politician’s speech, but Amber Rudd should certainly examine her own conscience over these grubby and divisive remarks.”
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