The Financial Times reports today that home secretary Teresa May was forced to "water down" her first major speech on immigration last week, after an intervention from Downing Street and business secretary Vince Cable. Unnamed sources within the government told the FT that May's original speech was "over the top" - with particular objections to passages which attacked the level of Tier 1 visas.
The Financial Times reports today that home secretary Theresa May was forced to “water down” her first major speech on immigration last week, after an intervention from Downing Street and business secretary Vince Cable. Unnamed sources within the government told the FT that May’s original speech was “over the top” – with particular objections to passages which attacked the level of Tier 1 visas.
The paper claims that Number 10 and Vince Cable had exerted pressure to soften the tone of the speech, and have a more liberal approach to Tier 1 immigrants.
These tensions at the heart of the coalition over one the government’s flagship policies are revealing, and follow a week of criticism over the damaging economic effects of increasingly strict immigration caps – particularly towards skilled tier 1 workers.
As Left Foot Forward reported last week, criticism of the immigration cap has come from a wide variety of sources, including David Cameron’s former speech writer Ian Birrell, who accused his former employer of imposing an arbitrary cap because the prime minister was “spooked by voices in the media”.
Additionally, the ippr wrote on Left Foot Forward that the government was torn between an ineffective policy that “it knows is damaging to the economy and public services” or finding a way to abandon or redefine the target. This was followed by criticism from small businesses, who argue the tier 1 cap will be “damaging to business”.
Next week the Migration Advisory Committee, will report back with its recommended cap for next year’s immigration, believed to be lower than this year. It will be interesting to see whether May’s flagship policy is further watered down by her coalition partners, such as Vince Cable, who believe it to be a significant threat to the recovery.
In September, Cable told Left Foot Forward the immigration cap was “doing great damage” and had left him “at the limit of collective responsibility”, adding he was “not willing” to defend the system at present.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.