Vince Cable: PM's plan to cut immigration is unachievable
Business secretary speaks out as survey finds that three-quarters of people want curbs in immigration
THE Prime Minister's pledge to cut annual net migration to fewer than 100,000 by the next election has been branded as unachievable by Vince Cable.
David Cameron wants net migration – the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and those emigrating – to be fewer than 100,000 per year. But the business secretary says the plan is impractical and is almost certain to fail.
"It involves British people emigrating - you can't control that. It involves free movement within the European Union - in and out. It involves British people coming back from overseas who are not immigrants but are counted in the numbers," he said.
"Setting an arbitrary cap is not helpful. It almost certainly won't achieve the below-100,000 level the Conservatives are setting - so let's be practical about it.
Cable was speaking on a BBC Two documentary called The Truth About Immigration, to be broadcast at 9.30pm tonight.
His comments come as the British Social Attitudes Survey found that more than three-quarters of people want immigration to be cut, while more than half called for major curbs.
On the BBC Two programme, former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw admits the previous government "got it wrong" on immigration, while Labour MP and former home secretary David Blunkett says: "We didn't spell out in words of one syllable what was happening, partly because of a fear of racism."
Cameron has previously admitted that the eurozone crisis disrupted his plans to get immigration figures below 100,000 in time for the 2015 general election.
His pledge was dealt a "severe blow" with the release of official statistics showing numbers rose to 182,000 in the year to June, from 167,000 the previous year, says The Guardian. Statisticians blamed a "significant" surge in citizens arriving for work from crisis-hit EU countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain.