26/08/2011 07:05 BST | Updated 26/10/2011 06:12 BST

Immigration Makes Lib Dems 'Squeamish', Claims Tory Backbencher

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Liberal Democrat "squeamishness" is in danger of undermining the Government's crackdown on immigration, a senior Tory backbencher has warned.

Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard hit out at his party's coalition partners after it emerged that net migration to the UK rose by a fifth last year.

The figures have alarmed many rank-and-file Conservatives by casting doubt on whether David Cameron's target of bringing immigration down to the "tens of thousands" by 2015 can be achieved.

The Prime Minister has previously admitted that he would be taking "further steps" on the issue if the Lib Dems were not in government.

Mr Pritchard highlighted the risk that Labour could "outflank" the Tories on core policies such as immigration and crime.

"Some of the Government's so-called red lines, such as immigration, are looking decidedly wobbly," he said.

"The Conservatives cannot allow Labour to outflank the Government on immigration and law and order because of the squeamish nature of some Liberal Democrats."