Vince Cable today accused Theresa May of suppressing evidence proving that immigration has little effect on employment and wages, and hiding the benefits to the economy as Home Secretary.
In a blistering attack on Theresa May in her first PMQs before the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill starts being debated in parliament, the LibDem leader said that Theresa May had covered up NINE reports that proved immigration had little adverse effect on wage and employment levels.
The former coalition business secretary told the House of Commons: “When I was business secretary there were up to nine studies that we looked at that took in all the academic evidence.
“It showed that immigration had very little impact on wages or employment. But this was suppressed by the Home Office under Theresa May, because the results were inconvenient.
“I remember it vividly. Overwhelmingly it has been the case that overseas workers have been complementary rather than competitive to British workers.
“The exodus of trades people, NHS staff and tech industry workers shows the potential damage of an extreme Brexit.”
Theresa May has repeatedly claimed that immigration controls are a priority, and insisted that immigration “often hits those at the lower end of the income scale hardest.”
But the LibDem leader who had served in cabinet with Theresa May under the Tory Lib Dem coalition accused the Conservative leader of making such claims for political ends.
This is not the first time that Theresa May has faced such accusations.
Theresa May’s has always insisted on counting foreign students in the government’s immigration target despite other Tory colleagues and all the other parties pointing out that this leads to a false impression in immigration figures as most students go home after their degree. Last month May’s claims of how many students stay on were proved drastically wrong when official figures revealed that fewer than 5,000 students a year stay on after their visa expires.
The Office for National Statistics used new UK exit checks to work out that just 4,600 students overstayed their visa last year – nothing like government estimates of 100,000.
Conservative MP Nicky Morgan, who chairs the Treasury select committee, admitted that “the reasons given for including students in the net migration numbers don’t really ring true”.
“It is pretty clear that the vast majority return home,” added Bob Neill, another former Conservative MP, “post-Brexit our education sector, our higher education sector, is a big selling point. We actually ought to be attracting talent. A lot of these people will go back but have connections with the UK and that works in our country’s interest in terms of trade. It is classic soft power.”
And before that internal LibDem emails were leaked pointing to more evidence back in 2014 that “benefit tourism” was not an issue according to Department of Works and Pensions evidence but “Conservative secretaries of state are determined not to admit this.”
Theresa May was accused by the Lib Dems of scapegoating immigration repeatedly before the EU referendum, interfering with a government report to portray immigration negatively and exaggerate “benefits tourism.”
And last year Theresa May was accused of covering up evidence in another report that she didn’t like the look of. Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted that May, then Home Secretary had tampered with a report proving no link between illegal drug use and draconian drugs laws, deleting sentences when “she didn’t like the conclusions.”