One of the government's own ministers has branded the latest attempt to crackdown on illegal UK immigration “stupid and offensive”.
Business secretary Vince Cable made the comment during discussions with the BBC. He explained that the decision to display posters on vans advising illegal migrants to 'go home' is not only putting community relations under pressure, but also threatens to damage the UK's economic status.
“It is designed, apparently, to create a sense of fear in the British population that we have a vast problem of illegal immigration,” he told the the news source. “We have a problem – but not a vast one – and it’s got to be dealt with in a measured way.”
The Liberal Democrat explained that, while the campaign is targeted towards illegal migrants, he fears that the tone of the posters and the current approach to migration in general could risk deterring highly-skilled migrants who would otherwise apply for UK work permits and visas. Problems for the UK economy could arise if a lack of foreign investment becomes apparent in the future.
The comments come as the Conservative party has pledged to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” before the next election, but Liberal Democrats have been less enthusiastic about this tough approach.
Mr Cable has attempted to combat the anti-immigration stance being pushed by some of the British media and politicians. In a visit to India earlier this year he assured people that there is “no limit” on the number of Indian students able to come to Britain, so long as they have a place at a college or university and meet the language requirements.
The business secretary is now encouraging the government to drop its bond pilot, which would see visitors from six countries – of which India is one – charged £3,000 as a deposit for entering the UK.