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Vince Cable attacks Cameron's immigration speech as "very unwise"

Tim Montgomerie

CableVince470 The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg has tweeted that Vince Cable has told her that David Cameron's speech is "very unwise". The Business Secretary says that the Prime Minister's remarks on immigration "risk inflaming extremism".

Government ministers from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat sides of the Coalition shouldn't pretend that they agree on everything. I imagine nearly every Tory in the country will agree with the substance of David Cameron's speech and every Liberal Democrat activist will be glad to see the Business Secretary poking the Prime Minister in the eye.

Mr Cable should remember, however, that although Mr Cameron is giving a party political speech today he is also - largely - stating government policy. The Business Secretary doesn't like the Coalition's immigration policy but he needs to observe collective responsibility on the details of what was agreed.

I wrote about Mr Cameron's speech very early today. After refusing to address the issue properly at the General Election and making this speech at a time of increasing electoral vulnerability for the Conservatives, Mr Cameron does look like he's ripped up his own rulebook on how to deal with the issue of immigration. Nonetheless... on the substance the PM is right and Mr Cable is wrong. Extremism will grow if senior politicians don't address the impact of migration on public services, employment and national culture.

12.30pm update from Jonathan Isaby

David Cameron has delivered the speech and in answering questions from the media afterwards, he effectively slapped down Vince Cable for his intervention. He said that he believed his speech had a "sensible, measured, serious tone" and that the immigration policy had been had been agreed by the Coalition, by the two parties working together. Yes, you have discussiona and arguments, he said, but you then end up with a settled policy. He emphasised: "This is the policy of the whole Government... this speech is Liberal Democrat policy. This speech is Coalition policy." Andrew Sparrow of the Guardian notes that at the very end of the event he said that "some of the critics of it [the speech], actually, are off beam", seemingly in a reference to Cable.


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