Vince Cable attack on 'panicked' Tories will 'poison' coalition
Business secretary 'infuriates' Tory MPs by linking migrant crackdown to 'racist' Enoch Powell speech
VINCE CABLE'S inflammatory comments about the Tories' "panicked" response to EU immigrants, suggests "bitter personal poison" is seeping into some of the coalition's key policy disputes, The Guardian's Patrick Wintour says.
The business secretary used an appearance on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme yesterday to accuse David Cameron's party of grubbing for UKIP votes with irresponsible and populist rhetoric reminiscent both of Enoch Powell and pre-war anti-semitism, writes Wintour. He says Cable's remarks will "infuriate Tory backbenchers" who believe they are merely voicing the fears of their constituents over the likely scale of migration from Romania and Bulgaria on 1 January when transitional controls are lifted.
Cable's comments follow a series of "last-minute measures" by David Cameron to deter "benefit tourists" from the EU, The Independent says. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has insisted he will block any additional moves to limit migration levels from the EU.
The Business Secretary echoed his leader's resistance to the Tory crackdown yesterday, but went much further. The comment that is likely to drive the biggest wedge between the coalition partners is Cable's likening of recent Tory rhetoric on EU immigration to Enoch Powell's infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech.
Made in 1968, the speech warned against the consequences of opening the "floodgates" to black immigrants and was widely regarded as racist. Powell was sacked as shadow defence secretary in the aftermath of the speech.
The Daily Mail says Cable's comments represented an "extraordinary attack" on Conservatives. The paper says Cable also launched a "bizarre attack on the public" by suggestion Britons were "schizophrenic" because they wanted curbs on immigration while enjoying holidays abroad.
A Tory cabinet minister told the Mail that Cable was "spewing bile" and suggested the Business Secretary should resign if he "hates us so much".
Elsewhere in his interview with Andrew Marr, Cable warned that George Osborne's austerity measures are having a "severe" effect on public services. He also suggested that interest rate rises might be needed to prick a housing bubble in London and the south-east of England.
"It was one of those occasions," writes George Eaton in the New Statesman, "when it was easy to forget that Cable is a serving member of the government". ·