Cameron praised for rejecting race card

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Tony Blair has lavished praise on David Cameron for his refusal to exploit the issue of immigration since he became Tory leader.

The Prime Minister abandoned party political rivalries to call for a mature debate on multiculturalism.

He said: "It is great that in British politics today no mainstream party plays the race card. It is not conceivable, in my view, that this leader of the Conservative Party would ever misuse the debate on immigration.

"And that is both a tribute to him and to the common culture of tolerance we have established ... There will naturally be debates about the rules for migration - what they should be and how they are enforced.

"But I don't think in this country there's any appetite for turning such a debate into an attack - explicit or implied - on immigrants."

Mr Blair's comments are in stark contrast to his accusation at the last election that, under Michael Howard, the Tories played on fears over asylum and immigration. He said then: "The Tory party have gone from being a one-nation party to being a one-issue party."

A spokesman for Mr Cameron said last night: "It's important in politics that people are constructive and work together when they agree. But there will be plenty on times when we disagree with the Prime Minister."