David Cameron’s former top guru has launched an attack on the Conservatives’ rhetoric around immigration.
Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron’s former director of strategy, posted a link to an article describing a speech given by the Home Secretary on the subject as “contemptible” and suggesting she might resign.
“Well said,” he commented in a tweet, apparently endorsing the criticisms in the piece.
The article, written by journalist Alex Massie for the Spectator magazine, accused Theresa May of “pandering to the basest elements of the Tory party”.
Ms May was “a Home Secretary basing her pitch to lead her party on a stale and noxious concoction of tawdry nativism”, the journalist wrote.
Mr Hilton played a central role in Mr Cameron’s early administration, earning a reputation for original ideas and a centrist approach. He later fell out of favour before moving to the US for other work.
During his time in Downing Street he was instrumental in gaining government backing for the "Big Society" approach to public services - a policy that has been neglected since his departure.
The former advisor’s tweet was posted at 8pm on Thursday – hours after Mr Cameron delivered a speech widely regarded by commentators as a pitch for the centre-ground Mr Hilton had sought to cultivate.
The speech criticised by Mr Hilton was delivered by Ms May on Tuesday to the Conservative party conference.
“When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society,” she had told delegates.
“It’s difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope. And we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether.”
The address was also strongly criticised by business group the Institute for Directors, who accused the Home Secretary of “vilifying” immigrants and peddling “nonsense” myths about migration.
Ms May is widely regarded as one of the proto-candidates to succeed David Cameron as leader of the Conservative party after he steps down before the next general election.
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