Vince Cable dismissed his Twickenham constituency rival as a ‘fantasist’ after UKIP candidate Barry Edwards told SW Londoner that parties supporting the EU are ‘discriminatory’.
Mr Edwards argued that the immigration system is unfair to people from outside the EU, including the 52 other Commonwealth countries, to have restricted movement when EU citizens can move freely.
“If there is a party of discrimination it is the parties that agree with the EU immigration system and the EU itself,” he said.
“I’d like to go back to the old system where the UK is the UK and we have a very clear immigration system for the rest of the countries in the world.”
Business Secretary and Lib Dem candidate for Twickenham, Vince Cable, said: “There are fantasists on the right who dream of a lost world of global empire and believe we can walk away from the successful trading block on our doorsteps.
“As for ending free movement within the EU this would actually harm many UK citizens.
“Free movement within the EU is allowing almost 400,000 UK citizens to live in Spain and a further 128,000 UK citizens to live in France.
“UKIP would undermine this freedom being enjoyed at present by many UK citizens.”
Mr Edwards, who ran for the Conservative party in the 2010 Richmond local election and wrote their manifesto, said that the other parties believe it is the EU that is our country rather than the UK.
“If you say that people who migrate from the EU are in your country then you no longer have a country.
“I don’t want 73% of our laws to me made by a foreign power – it’s unpatriotic and not right for Britain that we allow other countries to make our decision.
“We’ve lost our sovereignty and we’ve got to get it back.”
The father-of-two added that the rise in immigration – one factor in the UK’s population rising from 54m in the mid-1990s to around 63m today – is largely down to Labour signing the Free Movement of Citizens Directive in 2004.
“The British people should have been given a choice back then – no-one’s been given the choice about whether we should be in the EU at any time,” said Mr Edwards.
He argued that immigration causes a huge strain on housing, public services and green spaces.
“If you believe that the planet’s resources are infinite and you can do anything you like without consequences the damage to people today and in the future will be untold,” Mr Edwards said.
“I’ve done the calculations and by 2050 we’re going to need 41,000 more houses simply on the basis of the number of people coming into the Richmond borough alone.”
“You’ll need the area almost the size of Bushy Park – that means the whole green space in Richmond.”
“We will damage the quality of life of people by allowing 300,000 people into the country every year – that’s a city the size of Birmingham every four years. That is just catastrophic.
“No wonder people are suffering because there’s not enough housing – we can’t build cities that fast.
“And even if we did we’d be building on the land that’s producing our food.”
Mr Edwards left the Conservative party to join UKIP in 2013 and didn’t vote between 1980 and 2006 claiming he was ‘disillusioned’ with politics.
UKIP campaigns for ‘direct democracy’ in which referendums are employed on individual policies.
“There is no accountability – people think once they’re in power they can do whatever they want now. Fundamentally the democratic system wants to move on,” he said.
“The actual mechanics are complicated – we could do it on large issues, a series of referendums, by email on every single topic.
“I imagine a wonderful utopia in the future where only people make decisions.”
UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew said this morning that UKIP would implement a points-based immigration system and ban ‘unskilled’ workers from entering the UK.
Unskilled immigrants already working in the UK, such as those in agricultural and food packing jobs, would be allowed to remain, Mr Agnew told the BBC.
Picture courtesy of Department for Business Innovation and Skills, with thanks