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
It would be a volte-face to prompt an angry backlash from the right. But there are a few smoke signals emerging from above 10 Downing Street that a rethink of the immigration cap could be underway.
David Cameron’s spokesman insisted this morning that no decision had been made over the cap, which applies to the number of visitors from outside the EU. (The vast majority come from inside the free market and thus cannot be halted).
Vince Cable has laid down the gauntlet against his own coalition government today as he stepped up his criticism of immigration policy.
Vince was talking during a Q&A after a setpiece speech. He said the cap was “doing great damage” and cited a British company that needed 500 specialists – half of which needed to come from outside the EU – but had geen given a quota of just 30.
In the run-up to the general election George Osborne scored a big propaganda coup by enlisting the names of scores of business leaders in a letter criticising Gordon Brown’s planned rise in National Insurance.
(No matter that in Osborne’s subsequent Budget VAT went up by a similar amount to help plug the fiscal hole).
For Labour that stung; not least because some of the figures had sat at various times on its own advisory boards. David Miliband has since said, on several occasions, that he never wants Labour to enter a general election campaign with no business support.
George Parker wrote an insightful article a few weeks ago about splits at the top of government over the coalition’s plans for a cap on immigration. The reason the story was revelatory was that it was Tory ministers such as David Willetts and Michael Gove who were expressing concerns about the policy – not the Lib Dems.
Ed Davey, Lib Dem business minister, told me over a fish lunch last week that he was pressing hard to fight a new Brussels directive which could impose – in his view – £2.4bn of costs on business. A vote on this “pregnant workers directive” has just been deferred until the autumn, partly (I’m told by one EU contact) because of this British lobbying.
Been out of the office this morning, so afraid I’m coming a bit late to the OBR report. But one conclusion that leaps out is on immigration. Sir Alan Budd finds that:
First the point on the economy. Sir Alan Budd’s report cuts the forecast for “trend growth” from 2.75 per cent to 2 per cent from 2014 onwards, primarily because Britain’s workforce won’t be growing fast enough to sustain it.