Vince Cable: 'Go home' poster campaign aimed at illegal immigrants is 'stupid and offensive'
Business Secretary says: 'We have a problem but it's not a vast one'
Vince Cable has condemned as "stupid and offensive" the Home Office's use of adverts encouraging illegal immigrants to "go home, or you'll be picked up and deported."
The Business Secretary said the signs, which were paraded through six London boroughs on the back of a lorry, were designed to stoke unnecessary fears about immigration.
Mr Cable told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show the Liberal Democrats had not been consulted about the van campaign, rubbished "misleading" targets to reduce net migration, and insisted Britain did not have a vast problem with illegal immigrants.
He said: "It was stupid and offensive. I think it is very unlikely it will continue."
He further questioned whether illegal immigrants have the "sophisticated grasp of English" required to understand the message at a distance.
He said: "It is designed, apparently, to sort of create a sense of fear (in the) British population that we have a vast problem with illegal immigration.
"We have a problem but it's not a vast one. It's got to be dealt with in a measured way dealing with the underlying causes."
Asked about today's report from the Public Administration Select Committee, which said that migration statistics are "little better than a best guess" and probably understate migration into the UK, Mr Cable said: "We are not a totalitarian state. We don't count every single person but actually it's quite difficult being an illegal immigrant in Britain.
"You can't work, certainly legally, you can't have access to benefits. So, the idea that there's some vast, hidden army of people, is almost certainly completely wrong.
"It only really matters if you are pursuing some target. There's this sort of net immigration figure, which the Conservatives are very preoccupied by.
"It's not a government objective, make it absolutely clear.
"This idea that you are pursuing a net immigration figure is very misleading because, amongst other things, the largest number of people counted as immigrants are overseas students, who are not immigrants, they are visitors but under the United Nations classification they are regarded as immigrants, but they are good for the country.
"So obsessing about this net immigration number is not helpful."
- 1 Reader dilemma: 'Our son is 34 with an IQ of 85, and spends all his time in his room. What will happen to him when we're no longer here?'
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
People are American flagging their Facebook profile pictures in response to those rainbow flagging them
Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
Historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox head 'getting closer'
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...