March 6 (Bloomberg) -- Mass immigration to Britain is due to a “wealthy metropolitan elite” who want cheap labor and services, Tory Home Office Minister James Brokenshire said, in a direct clash with his Liberal Democrat coalition partners.
“For too long, the benefits of immigration went to employers who wanted an easy supply of cheap labor; or to the wealthy metropolitan elite who wanted cheap tradesmen and services -- but not to the ordinary, hard-working people of this country,” Brokenshire said in a speech to the Demos research institute in London today.
His comments pit him against Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable, who will make a speech at the Mansion House in London this evening in favor of immigration. Cable and Home Secretary Theresa May, Brokenshire’s boss, have frequently clashed on how the U.K. should tackle migration, with the Tories seeking to bring net migration to below 100,000 a year by 2015.
Cable will argue that British companies need a loosening of immigration rules.
“Business cannot understand why outstanding Chinese and Indian students who graduate from British universities with valuable skills can’t stay on and pursue their careers in British business,” he will say, according to extracts of his speech released in advance by his office.
“A marked reduction in immigration from the EU would mean, as the OBR have confirmed, an increase in the budget deficit and a much slower reduction in public debt,” he will say, referring to the U.K.’s fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Prime Minister David Cameron hired an Australian nanny to care for his three children, while his Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, said today he would not talk about his household staff, only confirming he employs someone with a Belgian passport.
Cameron’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, refused to answer questions from reporters in London today about whether the premier had opened himself up to charges of hypocrisy by hiring a foreigner. “I’m going to keep talking about government policy,” Gray said.
Government figures last week showed net migration to the U.K. rose to 212,000 in the year through September from 154,000 a year earlier, with arrivals from other EU nations accounting for all of the increase. Immigration from non-EU countries fell amid a drop in the number of people from new Commonwealth nations such as India coming to Britain to study.
Cameron’s office denied yesterday that it’s suppressing a report on the economic effects of immigration and said it’ll be published “shortly.”
The BBC reported that the analysis by civil servants had been held back because it showed little evidence of harm to domestic employment as a result of immigration from countries outside the European Union, undermining the Conservatives’ case for cutting it.
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