Controversy has erupted in British political circles over a speech on immigration that Prime Minister David Cameron delivered today.
Vince Cable, a Liberal Democrat and the Business Secretary in the coalition cabinet, has warned that Cameron’s comments on curtailing immigration will be “very unwise” and “risks inflaming extremism.”
According to media reports, Cameron seeks to significantly reduce the number of migrants allowed to enter Britain legally, citing that years of mass immigration has undermined some British cities and threatens to undermine the nation’s society and character.
For too long, immigration has been too high,” he said.
Specifically, Cameron will reduce the allowed quote to “tens of thousands,” rather than “hundreds of thousands.” Cameron will also vow to stamp out forced marriages, a ploy used by many immigrants from South Asia to bring in relatives into Britain.
Cameron said: For a start, there are forced marriages taking place in our country and overseas as a means of gaining entry to the UK. This is the practice where some young British girls are bullied and threatened into marrying someone they don't want to. I've got no time for those who say this is a culturally relative issue – it is wrong, full stop, and we've got to stamp it out.
Cable 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.”
Cable also said: Much of the remaining immigration from outside the European Union is crucial to British recovery and growth. That's why the cabinet collectively agreed to support British business and British universities by exempting overseas students and essential staff from the cap on Non-EU immigration.
The Prime Minister also attacked Britain’s welfare state, which he claims, has created a generation of lazy Britons – thereby allowing immigrants to fill up available jobs.
Cameron said the real issue is migrants are filling gaps in the labour market left wide open by a welfare system that for years has paid British people not to work. Put simply, we will never control immigration properly unless we tackle welfare dependency.”
In addition, the Prime Minister stated: When there have been significant numbers of new people arriving in neighbourhoods, perhaps not able to speak the same language as those living there, on occasions not really wanting or even willing to integrate, that has created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods. This has been the experience for many people in our country and I believe it is untruthful and unfair not to speak about it and address it.
Many believe Cameron’s speech is designed to shore up his support among Conservatives ahead of the May 5 local elections.
The Labour Party came under heavy criticism by Cameron for permitting high immigration numbers
In his speech, Cameron cited data showing that between 1997 and 2009, 2.2 million more people came to live in the UK than those who left.
That's the largest influx of people Britain has ever had and it has placed real pressures on communities. Not just pressures on schools, housing and health care – though those have been serious – but social pressures, too, he said.