Cameron apparently goes soft on issue of immigration
20th April 2011: In an apparent change in stand after being attacked on the issue of immigration by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Prime Minister David Cameron has asserted cutting migration to the low levels witnesses in the 1980s was an “ambition” and not a Government policy.
The assertion comes soon after Clegg distanced himself from Cameron’s tougher stance on immigration and said cutting down the numbers of foreigner entrants to tens of thousands a year was not government policy.
Cameron, in fact, caught Westminster unawares by apparently bidding adieu to the pledge to cut down the annual figure from 200,000 to “tens of thousands”.
The shift has led Tory MPs to believe Cameron has given in to keep Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable in good humour.
Reacting to the developments, chairman of campaign group MigrationWatch Sir Andrew Green called for an end to backpedaling.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper too reacted by saying calling it an ambition, an aim or a target was just classic slipperiness with words from David Cameron.
Referring to cuts on immigration, Clegg had only recently told BBC 1’s The Politics Show: `It’s not in the coalition agreement and I don’t think anyone suggests that what we should be doing is pursuing fixed numerical targets in immigration policy.
‘Lots of people come in and out of this country, not least through the European Union, who you can’t just numerically control, so I don’t think it’s a numbers game.’
Only last week, Cable had also blamed Cameron for being “unwise” in making a speech on the need to control immigration. Cable, in an interview, said he did not regret his comments on the Prime Minister’s speech. He asserted it had been necessary “to say something about the way it was expressed”.
Elaborating, Cable said there was a constant balance to be struck in the coalition “between expressing a collective, agreed view of government while maintaining the identity of our party”.