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Cameron starts to blame Liberal Democrats for likely failure to deliver immigration promise

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen shot 2011-06-25 at 06.38.45

According to Ipsos MORI's polling of the British people the second most important issue facing the country is immigration and race relations. And you can understand why. In the year up to September 2010 (before Coalition policies had been introduced) 586,000 people arrived to live and work in Britain and 344,000 departed these shores. Net immigration of nearly 250,000 is way above Cameron's promise to reduce it to the tens of thousands and many doubt that the Coalition's policies are capable of hitting his target.

Earlier this week, in a detailed study, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford calculated that - on the basis of some optimistic premises - existing Coalition policies could cut immigration by 75,000 but such a cut is only equivalent to HALF of the reduction in migration that would be necessary to reduce net immigration to 99,999. The Observatory said the Coalition had four options:

"(i) Introduce even more restrictive policies toward non-EU nationals; (ii) reconsider the target, or the time period in which it can be met; (iii) continue and hope that net-migration of British and other EU nationals will turn negative and reduce net-migration sufficiently to hit the tens of thousands; (iv) continue and hope that all the currently available impact assessments, including this one, are way off the mark.  The last two options would involve relying on what are, in our assessment, unlikely scenarios."  

Screen shot 2011-06-25 at 06.46.33 In today's Mail Iain Martin writes that these facts are causing "panic" inside government:

"One worried minister described immigration to me as ‘the iceberg’ that could eventually sink the Government. There is also mounting concern that the welfare reforms simply won’t work if immigration continues at its current pace. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is implementing a programme to get some of the five million on benefits fit for work, but he is worried that migration could render it largely ineffective. Unsurprisingly, many businesses prefer to employ ambitious, hardworking incomers rather than long-term unemployed Britons. This has meant that nine out of ten new jobs go to migrants."

Who is getting the blame for this? The Liberal Democrats. Earlier this week, interviewed on Radio 2, the PM said that he would have been tougher on crime and immigration if he had been able to govern on his own. If the immigration target is missed - as seems more than likely - the Tories are preparing the ground to blame Nick Clegg.

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