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David Cameron's immigration speech: grist for the British right

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Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

(Read caption) A British citizenship certificate is seen in London on April 14. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday he wants to curb immigration, but that Britain should go about it in a way that doesn't isolate minorities in the eyes of other Britons.

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The row over British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on reducing immigration in Britain is fine tabloid fodder – and that is just what many critics worry about.

Mr. Cameron has again spoken bluntly about his nation’s immigrants. He didn't focus on Muslims, like he did in a February speech on multiculturalism, but on Thursday spoke about reducing the number of unskilled newcomers to Britain’s shores.

The issue is a sensitive one for a country that is far more ethnically diverse than it was 20 years ago, and that is seeing a populist backlash against immigrants amid whopping austerity cuts.

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Cameron argued that "when there have been significant numbers of new people arriving in neighborhoods ... perhaps not able to speak the same language as those living there ... on occasions not really wanting or even willing to integrate ... that has created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighborhoods."

Criticism of the speech was sharp, and even came from his own coalition.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, a Liberal Democrat, argued the comments threatened to inflame minorities and was “unwise.” Mr. Cable later retracted the comments and said he was completely behind Tory "immigration policy," which is regarded as less controversial than Cameron’s statements.

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