Fresh off his announcement to stand again for London Mayor, Boris Johnson has nevertheless shown that even the job of prime minister isn’t safe.
David Cameron was on the other end of some pointed remarks on the Tory approach to UK visas by the mayor over the weekend. In the interview, he warned that some firms already in serious trouble faced failing once the non-EU immigration cap was introduced.
“It’s perfectly reasonable to try and get a grip on [immigration]. The problem is that this means that, you know, accountancy firms, film firms, banks, lawyers… actually find it very difficult at the moment to get in some of the people who you really need to keep London’s economy going,” he told the BBC.
This is hardly the first time Johnson has waded into national debate at odds with the traditional party line on immigration to the UK, and despite his pledge to return as mayor of England’s largest city, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see him ruling out stepping onto the national stage for 2014.
But as we reported last week, the UK’s largest employers are up in arms against the cap that was a key election promise in the Conservative manifesto. The support of businesses was a large reason why Cameron is now living in Downing Street, and Johnson is well aware of this.
Earlier this month the Forum for Expatriate Management saw many FTSE-500 companies voice their disapproval over the decision to reduce net migration to under 100,000 migrants by cutting, among other things, working visas.
Despite strong opposition, UKBA and MAC representatives reasserted their determination to reduce the net migration figure into the UK to fewer than 100,000 migrants per year.
The UK immigration minister, Damian Green says that the plan to reduce the number of foreigners moving to the UK will take the strain off public services and shrink the political football that the topic has become.
But with Australia and the USA unable to leave immigration off the table when it comes to elections, one doubts whether anyone – especially Boris Johnson, David Cameron’s heir apparent – would be keen to relinquish a topic that has proved to be such a vote-getter.
David Cameron – your move.