Paul Edie: Don’t drive away the brightest and the best

Amber Rudd delivers her speech to the Tory conference. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images
Amber Rudd delivers her speech to the Tory conference. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images
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The announcement by Home Secretary Amber Rudd that businesses would be required to publish lists of foreign employees rightly drew stinging criticism from all sides.

Described by Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson, a darling of the right, as a disgusting policy, Rudd further suggested that firms employing people who weren’t born in the UK would be named and shamed. That is indeed disgusting. Where is the shame in my Asian-born friend, a doctor who is doing a night shift at the Royal Infirmary as I write this? How welcome does the Eastern European theatre nurse feel when she reads remarks like that?

This is a deeply divisive and xenophobic policy suggestion. I am not one who bandies that term around lightly but I find it totally immoral. It is also impractical as so much of Brexit is. I am sure that business will not welcome this additional burden. Far from freeing us from the shackles of over- regulation by the EU our businesses will be bogged down in some really silly red tape thanks to half-baked initiatives like this.

Another serious concern is the impact Brexit will have on our universities and on their researchers. This city has a huge student and academic population. I personally know dozens of people who have come here to study.

Many stay on here and contribute massively to this city. All I have spoken to are deeply worried about their status, especially people on relatively short-terms research projects.

Universities are truly global bodies and for them to thrive they need to stay that way. This is exemplified by the careers many great minds like Einstein and Schrodinger both of whom worked at various institutes throughout the world.

This week we have seen three Scotsborn researchers win Nobel Prizes for physics and for chemistry. None of them currently work in Scotland; they have chosen to move to the universities that can best accommodate their research needs. And there has been a counter flow of academics moving here.

In the 1935 Erwin Schrodinger was offered a job at Edinburgh only to be royally messed about by the visa requirements of another, previous, isolationist government. He went elsewhere.

It seems that when it comes to hiring the very best of talent from overseas such insular governments as we are blessed with never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. It is time to junk this idiotic policy.

Paul Edie is Liberal Democrat councillor for the Corstorphine/Murrayfield ward