The Prime Minister says the British public are worried about 'numbers and pressure' of migrants, not about their race
Fears of immigration are not about “race” or “culture”, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister has said that it is the “numbers and pressure” that migrants put on the welfare system and jobs market that concern British people and that the public wanted Government to get a “grip” on immigration numbers.
Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses’ Policy Conference Mr Cameron said that public attitudes were “sensible".
He said: “I think the public attitudes on immigration are sensible and well informed. The British public recognises the fact that there has been very large scale immigration over recent years and politicians have not properly addressed this.”
“In fact in some circumstances - like the decision in 2004 to allow unfettered access to British markets of the eight countries that then joined the European union - actually made the situation worse.
"I think the public’s attitudes on immigration, they are not about race, they are not about culture. It's purely about numbers and pressure and making sure that we grip this properly and that’s exactly what I am committed to do.
“The public, I don’t think, are being at all unreasonable in saying can we please have a government, can we please have a Prime Minister, who takes this issue seriously and puts in place a proper balanced and sensible immigration system, and that is exactly what I am doing.”
Earlier David Cameron told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that he shared the frustrations of Tory rebels who want tougher rules on migration from EU countries but said that arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania had been at a “reasonable” level despite not seeing any official statistics on their entry.
Mr Cameron said: "There aren’t any official statistics – I haven’t been looking at any unofficial statistics”
He repeated that he thought the numbers looked “reasonable” and that he based his opinions on "what I read and see and hear.”
It follows a similar admission from Downing St that there were no official figures to back up the Prime Minister's comments that levels of Romanian and Bulgarian immigration had been "reasonable."
"Not to my knowledge, no, and migration statistics are regularly reported. I believe the first set of statistics covering the period from January are in May this year," the Prime Minister's spokesman said this morning.
Mr Cameron is under pressure from backbenchers to extend the restrictions on immigration from the two nations for a further five years, but he said the Government could not take more action under current European rules.