Vince Cable: Economies will believe 'Britain is closed'

As Nick Clegg prepares to reveal new proposals to deal with visa "overstayers", Business Secretary Vince Cable has attacked plans to reduce the net immigration, warning that economies believe "Britain is closed".

The Liberal Democrat said trying to reduce immigration to tens of thousands would do "enormous damage" to the UK.

In an interview for parliamentary journal The House he said:

It isn’t Government policy, it is Conservative policy. And it’s also not true because that policy purely relates to non-EU people. We have obviously no control over the European Union and that is actually where much of the movement comes. And a lot of the public anxiety which is experienced in by-elections and elsewhere has actually been about people from Eastern Europe.

Now, you can argue whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing but it’s got nothing to do with the non-EU, which is the area which is controlled by Government. The reducing to under 100,000 is not Government policy and it would be unattainable without, if it was attainable enormous damage would be done, notably through overseas students, which is one of the biggest components, actually.

– Vince Cable, Business Secretary