Cable out of touch, says Tory MP

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Business Secretary Vince Cable's comparison of the Conservatives to Enoch Powell is unacceptable and shows how completely out of touch he is with Britons, a Tory MP has said.

Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills criticised the Liberal Democrat minister for "effectively" comparing his coalition partners to the controversial Tory right-winger and his "rivers of blood" speech on immigration.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Mills, who is a member of the Immigration Bill Committee, said: "This is unacceptable."

Mr Cable's comments, he said, made "it very hard to sit around the Cabinet table".

Asked whether he thought Mr Cable should be made to leave Cabinet because of his outspoken views, Mr Mills said: "That's a decision above my pay grade, but it's a particularly strange way to work with partners.

"I think Mr Cable has always had a rather creative interpretation of what collective responsibility ought to look like.

"These comments, coming on the back of I would say some completely sensible policy announcements by the Prime Minister to restrict welfare to people who are newly arrived here, can't claim until they've paid in, I mean it just looks completely out of touch with the sentiments of most British people.

"I thought Mr Cable should have gone over his ridiculous remarks a couple of years ago, so I'm not going to change my mind now."

He added that comparing his Tory colleagues to Enoch Powell was "a ridiculous thing to have done".

Mr Cable incensed the Conservatives for suggesting the party's immigration rhetoric was based on a culture of panic and populism.

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show yesterday: "There is a bigger picture here. We periodically get these immigration panics in the UK.

"I remember going back to Enoch Powell and rivers of blood and all that. If you go back a century, it was panics over Jewish immigrants coming from Eastern Europe.

"The responsibility of politicians in this situation when people are getting anxious is to try to reassure them and give the facts, not panic and resort to populist measures that do harm."

This is not the first time that Mr Cable has voiced concern over the Conservatives' immigration policy.

In April 2011, distancing himself from their plans to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands, Mr Cable said it was "not part of the Coalition Agreement".

"It is Tory Party policy only. I do understand there is an election coming, but talk of mass immigration risks inflaming the extremism to which he and I are both strongly opposed."

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