The government wants the UK to become the "world's pre-eminent digital nation". This ambitious goal was outlined by Matthew Gould, the new director general for digital and media, at the Microsoft Transform event on Thursday.
Gould was clear that, amid the uncertainty of Brexit, the UK must not just keep up but lead the world on digital matters.
"One thing I am certain of is that, as we prepare to leave the EU, our future prosperity, our future wellbeing as a nation, depends on us being connected, cyber secure, innovation friendly and digitally skilled," he said.
Admirable stuff, but hollow and at odds with the pretty much undisguised anti-foreign rhetoric and policy coming from the Conservatives.
Plans are already afoot to stop a large number of overseas students, and their talents, coming to the UK unless they are doing courses deemed "worthwhile" (on whose judgement?). There is even a reported clamp down on non-UK academics and experts advising on Brexit-related policy matters.
There's no evidence to suggest that it would stop there. Why not stop academics advising on broadband rollouts, or smart city infrastructure, or driverless cars? The impact and importance is just as big.
There have even been noises about forcing firms to reveal how many foreign staff they employ in a bizarre, nationalistic ‘name 'em and shame 'em' policy to encourage firms to hire ‘local' people.
All of this is alarming in its own right but it utterly undermines any hope that the government could ever have of becoming a leading digital nation. No, sorry, "the world's pre-eminent digital nation".
We lack skilled enough people as it is in digital. Rarely does a tech leader tell us that finding the right people is an easy part of their job. I've heard it from British Gas, Gumtree, and Trainline in the past few months, to name just three, and there are countless others.
Gould touted the UK's new teaching curriculum around computing as proof that skilled workers will emerge in a few years' time. And they may well. But by then it will be too late. Even if we are overrun with skilled digital workers - coders, software designers, data scientists, artificial intelligence experts - it will still be too late.
The tech market does not wait, and a quick glance at the US, and the companies leading the world on this - Microsoft, Apple, Google, Intel and so on - shows a completely different attitude.
They are all actively trying to become more diverse in their hiring because they know that missing out on a certain demographic risks not understanding a huge customer base, and missing out on new ideas and innovations and the sort of collaboration that is fostered in an open and inclusive environment.
But the UK is looking at banning foreign students, rejecting foreign experts and forcing firms to hire UK nationals only. What chance do businesses have of hiring the diverse array of talented, digitally-savvy, forward-looking people they need for the future?
You don't need to be an expert on immigration to know that restricting access to talented people, the sort of people who want to come and work in your country and help businesses grow, is a bad thing.
You don't have to want tighter controls on immigration to know that a blanket ban on experts getting involved in major areas of policy, including Brexit, just because they are not from here is bad. You use the best assets to which you have access because if you don't someone else will.
And this is the point. Every nation knows that digital is the future. From smart government to smart cities, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, driverless cars, there is a huge, global revolution about to take place.
It is being led from the US, but it will affect everything. It will mean that talented people will be in demand the world over to deal with these problems.
And this won't just be in technology, where people will be needed to build and run the products and systems that make the new digital world work (which the government seems to think a new curriculum will solve), but in all areas of society around these innovations - in government, in law, in policy, in science, in academia, in research, in society full stop.
Digital does not exist in a silo. It is embedded in almost all areas of life, and is going only in one direction.
If you are a talented, highly skilled, digitally-oriented worker, be it a software designer, IoT engineer, lawyer or researcher, confident that you can land an interesting job with a good salary, would you want to come to the UK right now, where the government so openly sets out its stall as anti-foreign? Or would you look to work for a company in a nation that wants you and understands your worth?
If the UK government really believes it can become the "world's pre-eminent digital nation" by turning people away, at the very moment when the tech companies leading this charge take exactly the opposite approach, and businesses are crying out for these skilled people, it is utterly deluded.
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