Cable says speech unwise 15th April 2011: After the Prime Minister was blamed for arousing extremism by Liberal Democrat cabinet colleague Vince Cable, David Cameron has defended his tough stand on immigration by describing it as reasonable.
Cameron in his speech on immigration and said it was "moderate, sensible and reasonable".
In fact, the allegations by Cable has thrown the coalition into confusion. Initially Cable came out to criticise Cameron’s stand on immigration, but later said he backed government migration policy.
When Cable was questioned that he did not support his own government’s policy of an annual 20,700 visa cap for non-EU workers, he said: “We are completely united behind the immigration policy.”
Cameron while delivering the speech on immigration policy stated it was time Britain returned to the immigration levels of the 1980s and 1990s. During that time the number of people coming to the UK was in the "tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands".
Lashing out at the welfare system which saw Britons pine away on state handouts while foreign workers snapped up new jobs, Cameron told Tory party activists in Southampton that UK needed "good immigration, not mass immigration".
Cameron’s speech comes three weeks before Conservatives and Liberal Democrats face their first major ballot box face-off since joining forces in Government.
Criticising Cameron’ statement, Cable openly questioned the impact of a cap on foreign entrants on businesses and universities. He went up to the extent of terming the Prime Minister’s comments as "very unwise".
He told BBC "The reference to the tens of thousands of immigrants rather than hundreds of thousands is not part of the coalition agreement. It is Tory party policy only.”
"I do understand there is an election coming but talk of mass immigration risks inflaming the extremism to which he and I are both strongly opposed."
Cameron lamented that he could not be accused of promoting extremism and denied alienating his Lib Dem colleagues. Speaking later in Woking, he added that on the issue of immigration his speech was extremely moderate, sensible and reasonable.
He asserted: "What I was setting out is what is Government policy – what is agreed coalition policy in terms of controlling immigration properly, which we’ve debated inside Government, and agreed."
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that the Tory-led Government’s immigration policy was in chaos. The Business Secretary has said he doesn’t even agree with the policy in the first place.
A spokesman for deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also criticised Cameron and said that it was not the language the deputy Prime Minister or any Liberal Democrat would use in a speech about immigration.
After business criticised its original policy earlier this year, the government decided to exempt those earning over £150,000 from its visa cap.