Cameron tackles immigration
David Cameron has hit back at Vince Cable's claim that he risks inflaming racial tensions with his speech on immigration.
The Prime Minister told reporters that he had displayed a "very sensible, measured and serious tone" on the issue since becoming leader. On Thursday Mr Cable exposed Cabinet tensions over the issue which Ed Miliband seized on, saying the Prime Minister should get on with the job instead of “grandstanding”.
The Labour leader said: “It’s hard to have a Government policy that is clear and coherent if your Business Secretary, who’s in charge of your student visa policy is ... going out of his way to attack the Prime Minister.”
But Vince Cable has refused to back down from the comments, declaring: "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."
A Number 10 source told PoliticsHome.com that the Prime Minister accepted there would be a different emphasis between the two parties on the issue, adding "Vince is Vince".
David Cameron’s speech warned immigration creates "discomfort and disjointedness" and that it is "untruthful and unfair" to avoid speaking about the issue. Mr Cameron told Conservative members in Hampshire that the Government wanted to get the number of people entering the UK down to the level of the 1980s, saying "I want good immigration, not mass immigration”.
A row also sprang up between Downing Street and the Office for National Statistics after the latter told the BBC that the net EU migration figures the Prime Minister used in his speech were wrong, and that EU immigration is estimated at 57,000 not 27,000 in the year to June 2010. Downing Street sources have denied that the figures are wrong, saying the PM’s statistics were correct for net immigration from the EU.
The ONS issued the following statement: “ONS net EU migration figures exclude British citizens. ONS net migration of EU citizens is 57,000. If British citizens are included in estimates of net migration of EU citizens, the total net migration is 27,000."