Cameron risks playing into hands of far-right extremists, warns Cable
THE Prime Minister's rhetoric on cutting immigration risks "inflaming" extremism, Vince Cable said yesterday, as tensions surfaced over the government's plans to reduce the numbers of migrants coming to the UK.
Mr Cameron sparked a row with his Lib Dem Business Secretary after the Conservative premier said "for too long immigration has been too high", during a keynote speech to Tory activists.
He was warned his comments "risked inflaming extremism" by Mr Cable, one the most senior Lib Dems in the coalition government.
But Mr Cameron reacted by claiming his speech was made in a "sensible, measured, serious tone", as the Tories and Lib Dems prepare for their first major electoral showdown since joining forces in government.
Mr Cameron had said there was "real pressure on communities up and down the country" because of what he said were high levels of immigration.
He said it would be "untruthful and unfair not to speak about and address" the issue of immigration and claimed that Labour had "created the space for extremist parties to flourish".
The Prime Minister went on to say that the coalition agreement between the Tories and Lib Dems noted the "need to introduce a cap on immigration and reduce the number of non-EU immigrants".
But Mr Cable, who has publicly questioned the impact of a cap on foreign entrants on businesses and universities, objected to the PM's call for "good immigration not mass immigration".
He said: "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."
Mr Cable also described the Prime Minister's comments as "very unwise" and suggested Mr Cameron was electioneering.
But Mr Cameron denied the coalition was spilt over the issue and said he had never shied away from addressing the issue in all his time as Tory leader.
Mr Cameron, during his speech in Romsey, Hampshire, said: "The country elected a government wanting us to roll up our sleeves and deal with some of these issues.
This speech is … a very good explanation of how we are dealing with them in an extremely fair and sensible way.
"I am very willing to be judged by the British people, not only on the content of the speech and the action we are taking, but also the very measured way in which it is being put forward."
Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Mr Cameron of "grandstanding rhetoric" and said the public differences were "another example of where this looks like a coalition of convenience, not a coalition of principle".Mr Miliband said: "It is hard to have a government policy that is clear and coherent if your Business Secretary, who is in charge of your student visa policy … is going out of his way to attack the Prime Minister.
"The next time he makes a speech, why don't they get a grip, have a proper discussion, get an agreed policy.
"That is the right way to run a government."
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