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Cameron stopped Theresa May imposing work restrictions on immigrant students

By Tim Montgomerie
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In tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph I reveal that David Cameron vetoed efforts by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to impose a tough cap on the number of student immigrants who can work. 500,000 students enter Britain every year and represent the biggest weakness in Britain's borders. Many never study. Many never leave.

Mrs May and Damian Green, Immigration Minister, had argued that - in parallel with the Coalition's cap on work visas - there needed to be a second cap on the number of students who can enter the workforce after they have studied. I write:

"Downing Street rejected this idea, and sided with the Liberal Democrats, who have long taken a softer position on immigration."

In preparing my column I could not find a single authoritative source who believes that the Coalition is on target to meet David Cameron's commitment to reduce net immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.

Mr Green is far from giving up, however, and believes that policies can be progressively tightened over coming years and that by the end of the parliament a reduction in net immigration to under 100,000 should still be possible. That tightening will only be possible if Downing Street summons up the will to over-rule the Liberal Democrats' more permissive approach to border control.

Screen shot 2011-07-02 at 21.06.20 Friday's speech by Iain Duncan Smith was a significant sign that Theresa May and Damian Green are getting important reinforcements for their battle. Up until now leading Right-wingers like IDS and Liam Fox have been single-mindedly focused on their briefs. IDS' intervention on immigration might be a sign that Tory Cabinet ministers could be beginning to flex their muscles and pull the Coalition to the Right in the same way that voluble Liberal Democrats are pulling it to the Left.

Read my full Sunday Telegraph column.


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