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

LAST UPDATED AT 08:53 ON Tue 7 Jan 2014

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. · 

Disqus - noscript

Wake up BRITANNIA,we already have that in the isle-of-man,anyone coming to the island must get a work permit,and must be resident here fo TEN years before they even get on the list for social housing,also they cannot claim social benefits for FIVE years,
IT SEEMS TO WORK HERE FULL STOP.

...a rare flash of insight from Noddy!

No doubt those who want the famed dynamism of the Isle of Man will put up with the challenge of standing on their own feet there. Somehow that does not seem quite the way we have tended to do things on the mainland over the centuries. Countries that protect their borders aggressively turn into bullies that are going downhill from which any sane person would want to escape. That was the kind of place this was in the 1950s and early 1960s. With exchange controls and all sorts of other discouragements. We had rationing until 1953. It was very British (or perhaps English would be the better word) when I first came to live in London 50 years ago. I do not want to go back to that. Thank God we have the channel tunnel and are members of the EU. There is no alternative. Auf wiedersehn, Pet - remember it - British workers choosing to go and work and live in Germany. Europe is a mixture we can all be proud of, alongside being proud of the British bit of it.

Interesting, isn't it ? how those that are arguing the economic benefits of immigration to the economy would have had exactly the same case to argue for the continuation of slavery. The rich got richer, the slaves suffered. In Britain today, the rich are getting richer via suppressed pay rates so that the 'poor whites' , young people especially, can't find a decent job and can't afford housing.
House values and rents going up ? Simple supply and demand. If the end result is the poor working class living 6 to a room, who cares ? Not the landlord or the house builder.
You would think that immigrants don't get old. Who's going to pay for their old age care ? More immigrants ? England is already the most overcrowded place in Europe.

The problem isn't that David Blunkett failed to spell anything out in words of one syllable, as patronising as that statement is towards people who live in working-class estates that are traditionally hardest-hit by immigration. The problem is that no government of any shade ever asked the electorate's permission to import large numbers of low-skilled people into the country.

Strange assumption that: "Countries that protect their borders aggressively turn into bullies and are going downhill...", has the writer forgotten the disastrous effects of the Second World War had on this country in the 1950s. The UK cannot deny European citizens entry, the overwhelming problem is the "third World" immigration that no one can discuss for fear of being branded a racist. It is a cop-out to blame the Romanian and Bulgarians who are EU nationals.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.