Business secretary Vince Cable appeared to be on a collision course with his coalition partners this afternoon, hitting out at the immigration cap and veering off line on the deficit.
Responding to a question from Left Foot Forward at the Konigswinter 60th anniversary conference, he described the immigration cap as “doing great damage”, and said he was “at the limit of collective responsibility”.
He cited the example of a British-based company that needs 500 specialists over a three-year period, explaining that half of these had to come from outside the European Union – yet the company had only been given a quota of 30.
Dr Cable then said he was “not willing” to defend the system at present, and said he would be making more comments on the issue tomorrow.
Recently, businesses have warned of the damage the immigration cap is doing, while one of the country’s most senior Conservatives, London Mayor Boris Johnson, this week branded the cap “a shambles”, pointing out how everyone from law firms to universities and cancer research institutes were suffering from the policy.
Also at the conference, former Chancellor, Alistair Darling, challenged Cable on the government’s preferred way of bringing down the deficit, to which he responded by saying he and the shadow Chancellor were “not arguing about fundamental differences of philosophy”.