A senior Tory moderniser told me last week that he hoped that David Cameron wouldn’t focus on immigration policy again. The mention on Newsnight should be the last mention until polling day this MP told me.
He may get his wish although I don’t expect so.
What is clearly happening, however, is that other Conservative frontbenchers are highlighting the issue…
- In today’s Sun the energetic Chris Grayling highlighted figures that "show the number of foreigners in jobs is now greater than the number of people on unemployment benefits in a third of constituencies." Mr Grayling, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, told The Sun: “This proves how absurd it is for Gordon Brown to talk about British jobs for British workers. The Government has let millions of people in to work but forgotten hundreds of thousands left languishing on benefits.”
- In yesterday’s Guardian, Philip Hammond noted that 14,000 EU migrants to Britain were claiming benefits for children who weren’t actually living here. The Shadow Chief Secretary said that the cost to Britain was £250,000 every week. Mr Hammond asked: "Two hundred thousand more British children are living in poverty than a year ago. Child benefit is a vital weapon in the fight against child poverty. So why is Gordon Brown sending thousands of pounds of benefits every week to children who don’t live here and who may never even have visited the UK?"
- In the same Guardian piece Damian Green, immigration spokesman, said that the Government claim ed "not to know how many convicted murderers, rapists or child molesters have been granted British citizenship in the past 10 years". Mr Green said: "If they have to look at the files this suggests that some of the worst criminals are being given British citizenship. Even under this government surely we are not making UK citizens out of convicted murderers or child molesters?"
ConservativeHome welcomes these frontbench efforts to highlight legitimate concerns about the employment, financial and security implications of immigration. It is right that they continue alongside other efforts to highlight issues like women’s pay.
12.30pm update: Damian Green has commented on the Lib Dems latest immigration proposals which include an amnesty for people living illegally in the UK:
"The Lib Dems are living in a fantasy world. These proposals will encourage people to break the law and enter the UK illegally. Other countries have tried amnesties and have had to have five or more. This will send out a message that Britain’s borders are well and truly open to everyone in the world. Nick Clegg is being simply ignorant in claiming annual limits don’t work – we have seen them work perfectly well in a number of countries including Australia."
LibDemVoice’s defence of Nick Clegg’s position is here.