The Office for National Statistics has told the BBC that the net EU migration figures the Prime Minister used in his speech on immigration are wrong – and that EU immigration was estimated at 57,000 not 27,000 in the year to June 2010.
The reason this matters is that Cameron used the figure to claim that Europe accounted for only a “small proportion of overall net migration to the UK.”
When Nick Clegg called for paid internships last week there was an ironic twist as it emerged that the coalition had just cut funding for that purpose.
Now, as Cameron makes his most rightwing speech on immigration to date, it is worth pointing out the flaw in his vow to make incomers speak the Queen’s English.
As the Guardian points out today, the coalition is making deep cuts to the state programme for teaching immigrants the language.
From the autumn these lessons will only be free for immigrants on jobseeker’s allowance
Ipsos Mori has published an interesting survey today suggesting that three quarters (75 per cent) of Britons believe that immigration is currently a problem.
There is also strong support for the government’s plan to introduce an annual cap on the on the number of workers coming into Britain from countries outside the European Union. More than half (57 per cent) support the cap and only 15 per cent (one in seven) oppose it.
We were expecting a Lib Dem backlash against David Cameron’s immigration speech* but not necessarily from one of the party’s most senior cabinet ministers.
If you haven’t yet seen Vince Cable’s comments they are worth a read. Cable has described the prime minister’s speech as “very unwise” and suggested it could fuel a backlash over immigration.
“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,” Mr Cable told the BBC.
“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.”
Cameron’s speech should be seen in the light of next month’s local elections, where he needs to head off Ukip and bring out the Tory core vote. After all, he doesn’t seem to be promising any new policies as such. (The majority of immigration to this country is from EU citizens who cannot be stopped.) Nick Clegg’s aides are saying that they wouldn’t have used Cameron’s language but “there are elections on“.