`There can be no magical number’
17th August 2010: Even as Prime Minister David Cameron has all along been insisting that introducing a cap on non-EU immigrants is vital, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dismissed the plans by asserting people want a generous immigration system.
The assertion comes at a time when the government has already initiated steps to bring in ‘tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands’ immigrants on the purported ground of restoring public trust.
With this, the Deputy Prime Minister has reopened a Coalition fissure as the immigration proposals were a vital ingredient of the Coalition agreement. It is clear the leaders now do not see each other eye to eye on the immigration issue.
The Deputy Prime Minister was answering questions in London at the first of several “town hall meetings” he plans, as Cameron takes a fortnight’s break at Chequers and in Cornwall.
Clegg now is apparently of the opinion that immigration cap was not a solution; and there could not be a magic number as the upper limit.
Agreeing on the need to be ‘tough on numbers’, Clegg made it clear much more important was to ensure immigration system has people’s confidence, people’s trust and people were coming in for the right reasons.
He asserted the people wanted an immigration system which was fair, open and generous.
His assertion echoes concerns expressed by Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable. He had caused a flutter during David Cameron’s trip to India by expressing viewd against the cap, which he believed would harm trade links.
Cable had suggested a ‘light touch’ immigration policy, while asserting there was a debate in Cabinet on the cap.