Suella Braverman rejected a proposal from officials in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s department for more foreign workers to come to the UK to be florists, hairdressers and town planners.
The Telegraph understands that all three sectors were on a list of skill gaps presented to the Home Secretary by figures in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Ms Braverman dismissed the idea of adding the areas to the occupation shortage list, which would have meant new visas for foreign workers in those trades.
Cabinet differences over immigration
The intervention comes as the Home Secretary battles other Cabinet ministers over immigration policy, with Liz Truss’s new government still deciding its overall approach.
Ms Braverman wants to keep immigration numbers tightly controlled and has floated a return to David Cameron’s target of getting annual net migration down to the tens of thousands.
But other new Cabinet ministers, including Thérèse Coffey, the Health Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, have expressed a willingness to allow in more foreign workers to fill employment gaps.
The differences in approach flared up during the Conservative Party’s annual conference and look set to continue to play out in Whitehall in the coming days.
Ms Braverman is understood to have reacted with alarm when presented with the list of potential skills shortages that could be added to the occupation shortage list.
It was drawn up by officials in the department headed up by Mr Rees-Mogg, the Business Secretary, who is positioned on the Right of the Tory party.
The Home Secretary rejected the proposals and asked for the document to be redrawn. Allies say she is open to an increase in visas for agricultural workers.
One Cabinet minister indicated public support for a looser immigration approach for certain business sectors - Nadhim Zahawi, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Mr Zahawi said in a speech to business leaders at a dinner at Tory conference: "On legal migration … we’re looking at the projects the PM wants to deliver.
"We’ve got 24 months of delivery and linking those to the sectors of the economy. Then we have to look at can we grow our own, or do we also need to bring people into the country? Whether it be in AI or Spanish splicers to deliver the broadband structure.”
He said that he, Mr Rees-Mogg and Ms Braverman are working out “which sectors link to which projects which are the PM’s priorities”.
He added: "What do we need to do to engage with our posts around the world? Do we need to take out full page adverts or the equivalent in a digital sense to say to particular types of engineers, please come into the embassy because we want you in the UK?"