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Cameron enters local election campaign with speech on immigration

By Tim Montgomerie

David Cameron has had his worst week since entering Downing Street. Tensions between his party grassroots and with the centre right press have never been greater.

Higher taxes, reduced prison numbers, cuts in essential defence capacity, reduced support for the family and no action on Europe provide the increasingly bleak background. Into this unhappy cocktail Cameron added a hamfisted retreat on the NHS, negative remarks about British history, £650 million more for Pakistan and an inaccurate and almost guilt-ridden attack on Oxford University.

Later today Cameron will attempt to steady a panicking ship with a tough speech on immigration. It wins front page attention in many of this morning's newspapers:


Mr Cameron, who will be speaking to party activists in Hampshire, repeats his promise to reduce immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands and the Daily Mail summarises his pledges:

  • "A limit on the number of skilled workers coming from outside Europe of  27,000 this year;
  • A minimum age of 21 for spouses coming to the UK;
  • A crackdown on student visas to cut the number issued by 80,000 a year;
  • Limits on ‘health tourism’ and illegal workers claiming benefits;
  • Welfare reforms to end the option of a life on the dole for British workers."

Just weeks before the local elections using language that many of us wished he used before last year's General Election he will say that immigration, under Labour, had been "too high", "created discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods" and spurred the growth of extremist parties including the BNP.

He will link the increase in immigration to failure to tackle welfare dependency. "Migrants are filling gaps in the labour market left wide open," he will say, "by a welfare system that for years has paid British people not to work".

> 9.15am update: The Guardian already has a full text of the speech which Mr Cameron is due to deliver at about 11.45am.


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