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British govt under pressure over non-EU migration

The UK may announce temporary cap of 24,100 on non-EU immigration till April.

London: The British government is reportedly under pressure from coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, to ensure that the proposed cap on non-EU economic migration to Britain does not affect the domestic economy.

Appearing on the BBC on Monday, hours before announcing the proposed cap, Home Secretary Theresa May said the government will "ensure that the brightest and the best who have something to offer" are not excluded because of the cap.

She is expected to announce a temporary cap of 24,100 on non-EU immigration till April 2011, by which time the consultation process for making the cap permanent is to be finished.

The home secretary obliquely referred to the stand of the Liberal Democrats on the issue. Business Secretary Vince Cable - a Liberal Democrat - indicated on Sunday night that he had a different opinion on the cap.

Speaking on BBC1`s The Andrew Marr Show, Cable warned that the cap had to be flexible.

"If you`ve got a growing economy you`ve got to draw people in from all over the world where they`ve got unique contributions."

The home secretary said on the BBC show that it was possible to bring down non-EU immigration to controllable levels "while recognising what he (Cable) is saying".

Her statement is being interpreted to mean that cap may exempt top executives from multinational companies and other highly paid foreigners.

The Daily Mail has reported that apart from Cable, two other cabinet members, Michael Gove and David Willetts, also criticised the cap on the ground that it would not have a positive impact on the British economy.

The Press Association has said "some senior Tories are understood to have privately raised concerns about the impact on businesses seeking to recruit highly-skilled staff".

Cable indicated that he was not alone in raising the issue within the cabinet.


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