Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has described the Conservative party as being "panicked by the UKIP phenomenon" following an MP vote on immigration.
Cable described the Tories as being "horribly divided" following the vote to curb the ability of foreign criminals to resist deportation on the grounds of their right to a family life.
The amendment tabled by the rebel Tory backbencher Dominc Raab was defeated 241 to 97 votes after Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted against the measure.
"It is not good. We need to have a common approach to immigration to reassure the public," said Cable.
The immigration debate is underway in earnest in the Commons, exposing the rift which cuts through the Conservative Party in Westminster.
The Immigration Bill was shunted into the sidings over Christmas while ministers worked out how to head off a rebellion they saw coming.