British Minister ‘climbs down’ after immigration tough talk

October 20th, 2008 - 6:48 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 20 (IANS) Britain’s immigration minister has climbed down over plans to curb immigration, prompting the opposition to accuse the government of offering “no action.”Minister Phil Woolas said last week that he favoured placing a cap because he wanted to limit Britain’s population to below 70 million and ensure that British jobs went to Britons at a time of financial crisis.

But on BBC Sunday, he said: “I think, frankly, there’s a lot of nonsense talked about the cap.

“The European Union population can come and go just as we from Britain go and live in Spain, perhaps, or France - so, too, can others come to our country.

“So it’s very difficult to see, even if we are in favour of a cap, what it should be.”

“I’m not saying there could be no limit whatsoever,” he added.

Woolas’s apparent retraction came after a number of politicians criticised him last week, saying it was not Labour policy to place a cap on immigration.

Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz said Woolas was in danger of adopting the language of the “extreme right” by blaming migrants in a time of economic difficulty - and suggested Britain needed more immigrants to help it out of recession.

Dominic Grieve, the home affairs spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party said: “The minister has admitted that behind his words there is no action.

“We will do more than give warm interviews. We will introduce an annual limit on non-EU immigration, transitional controls on immigration from new member states, and establish a dedicated UK border police force.”

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