Business secretary Vince Cable has suggested that Britain has started to develop an “absolutely toxic public opinion” on UK immigration and urged the government to do something about it instead of enticing further negativity.
Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Mr Cable called for the government to be careful not to “inflame” attitudes towards immigration with the policies that it pushes through, noting that the opinion of voters is becoming somewhat problematic.
He said: “The phrase 'illegal immigration' is a kind of catch-all for things people are uncomfortable with in this immigration debate. We are dealing with an absolutely toxic public opinion. I think it's important that we keep calm and do nothing to inflame public opinion.”
The comments come amid discussion over how to stop people from 'abusing' the immigration system whilst still encouraging skilled workers to move to Britain and facilitating a secure and rational means of deciding who can access UK visas.
The business secretary added that the Liberal Democrat party is particularly well-placed to develop a sensible approach to the matter. He stated: “We are a political party trying to come to terms with this. We are a liberal party economically and socially. The natural instincts of our party are to be liberal-minded and rational where immigration is an issue.”
However, despite the party's eagerness to create an economically-beneficial immigration system, Mr Cable noted that it is an inescapable fact that the mood of the country is turning in certain areas with immigration very high in people's “political preoccupations”.
Earlier this week Mr Cable criticised the government's plans to set security bonds on temporary visas at £3,000, stating that the rate was too high and calling instead for a more “sensible and flexible” approach to the issue.