Chris Grayling's immigration cap policy was criticised last night at an ippr event. Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne described it as "completely Stalinist."
Chris Grayling and Chris Huhne clashed over the Conservative party’s policy of an immigration cap at an ippr event in London last night. The debate, the first of its kind, brought together the Home Secretary Alan Johnson and his two opposite numbers from the Conservative party and Liberal Democrats.
Grayling fleshed out some of the details of his policy revealing that, “Net migration will be very significantly lower than it is at the moment. We want to see tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands.” But Chris Huhne described the policy in stark terms:
“There is going to be one element of Conservative party’s economic policy that will be completely Stalinist. If the quota has been reached, what happens in August when football managers want to buy the next Robinho? We need a little more flexibility than that.”
In response, Grayling replied that, “If you have a rolling process with quotas being set at various stages, then yes you would have to wait until the next wave.”
Johnson said he was “keeping out” of that particular debate but answered a question from Left Foot Forward on the role of the Office of National Statistics in the national debate on migration statistics which has been covered repeatedly on this site:
“Projections don’t turn out to be true. Of course, the ONS should put out their statistics. Then you need a rational logical debate that isn’t driven by fear but is driven by facts.”
Chris Huhne went further and criticised 30 year population projections as “frankly pretty extraordinary.”
Earlier in the debate Huhne and Grayling declined to agree with Johnson that there was a mainstream consensus on four aspects of immigration policy: (1) There’s no sensible argument to stop immigration – it has added both culturally and economically; (2) There are communities that have been affected more than others; (3) The issue is shared with every other industralised country in the world; and (4) People who come to the UK should learn to speak English and pay taxes.
Grayling and Huhne united in criticising the Government’s handling of the decision earlier this decade to allow Poland and other “A8” accession countries to freely move to the UK. Huhne revealed that, “Front bench Liberal Democrats supported [the policy] in 2004. I didn’t.”Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.