POLITICS

David Cameron Insists Tories Are Only 'Competent' Party On Immigration

20/12/2014 16:02 GMT | Updated 20/12/2014 16:59 GMT

In the on-going arms race between the political parties over immigration, David Cameron has insisted that only the Tories offer "competence" on the issue.

The rise of Ukip has seen the two main parties desperately try to convince the electorate they are the best suited to addressing immigration.

Writing in the Daily Express, Cameron said his government had addressed some of the problems inherited from a Labour administration that "let immigration get out of control".

He claimed "real progress" had been made in addressing the issue and voting for Labour or Ukip would deliver "chaos".

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Cameron has staked his political future on offering an in-out referendum on the Britain's EU membership in 2017, if he is still prime minister, and on reforming EU rules, including peoples' right to move between the member states.

Meanwhile, the issue has become so toxic for Labour it has issued guidance to candidates to move conversations away from the topic on the doorstep.

The scale of the challenge faced by the Tories, who have recently been humiliated by missing their goal of reducing net migration to the "tens of thousands", was underlined by a scathing Home Affairs Select Committee report.

The committee's Labour chairman Keith Vaz said the system was in "intensive care" with a result of a rising backlog of missing migrants and unresolved immigration cases.

The committee also hit out at the Tories' promise to cut net migration to less than 100,000 - now broadly seen as unattainable - as "too blunt" and "arbitrary".

In his Express article, Cameron wrote: "I came into office with a single-minded determination to turn all this around - and real progress has been made."

david cameron sad

David Cameron insisted only his party can handle immigration

Incidentally, the owner of the Express Richard Desmond recently gave Ukip donation of £300,000.

Cameron said his efforts to change European welfare rules would cut the numbers arriving here from the rest of the EU, adding this could be "an absolute requirement for me in that renegotiation".

He also repeated the mantra that deserting the Tories and voting Ukip would hand the general election in May next year.

He said: "In a nutshell, the Conservatives offer competence on immigration with a clear and workable plan.

"In contrast, all our opponents offer is chaos. Ed Miliband and Labour have no plan to cut migration. This is the same party that once said it was sending out 'search parties' for new immigrants to come to Britain.

"As for Ukip: a significant vote for Ukip threatens to let Ed Miliband and Ed Balls into Downing Street. And that means no immigration control, no EU referendum and chaos in our economy."

nigel farage

Both parties have sought to talk tough on immigration to win back voters from Nigel Farage

After Cameron insisted only the Tories could handle immigration, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP replied that only Labour could.

She said: "Unlike Labour, (Cameron) has no plans to stop dodgy employers exploiting immigration by undercutting local pay or agencies recruiting from abroad. Neither has he backed our proposal to strengthen the border force by recruiting an additional 1,000 staff.

"And he still hasn't acknowledged that we need a system which recognises different kinds of immigration - so we can welcome more overseas students who bring billions into our economy and restrict low skilled migration.

"Instead of empty promises from a Prime Minister that has failed to deliver, we need a fair and effective immigration policy. Only Labour is offering that."

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said Cameron had only paid "lip service" to the issue of border controls and "he hasn't actually done anything about it".

The Clacton MP said it would be impossible to properly control the UK's borders unless the country left the EU.

He told BBC Radio 4's Week in Westminster: "Every one of the Tweedledee and Tweedledum parties promises to create a system of border controls which means that when people leave the country they are logged out as having left.

"None of them has done it. You can't do that until you leave the European Union.

"The other parties cannot actually address the challenges if we contract out the fundamental decision-making process to unelected officials in Brussels and Whitehall."