Cable 'not in contact' with peer

Witney Gazette: Business Secretary Vince Cable was forced to deny he was part of a plot to oust Nick Clegg Business Secretary Vince Cable was forced to deny he was part of a plot to oust Nick Clegg

Vince Cable has revealed he does not expect to revive his long standing friendship with the peer behind the failed Liberal Democrat leadership coup.

Lord Oakeshott resigned from the party after admitting he had commissioned research which indicated the party could fare better at next year's general election if Nick Clegg was no longer in the top job.

The Business Secretary was forced to deny he was part of a plot to oust the leader and later publicly declared his support Mr Clegg.

It appears the botched plan has put an end to the close friendship between the Cabinet minister and the party's former Treasury spokesman.

Asked about the furore during an interview with The House magazine, Mr Cable said: "I think we've moved on somewhat from that. I've really said everything I needed to say about Lord Oakeshott and what he'd done. We are not in contact and I'm not expecting to be in the foreseeable future.

"Something happened, I had to deal with it and in the circumstances that's where we are."

Mr Cable also dismissed comments made by former party leader Lord Ashdown that the Business Secretary should choose his Iagos carefully - a reference to Shakespeare's Othello, who was betrayed by a confidante of that name - as " totally wrong".

In the wide-ranging interview, the Lib Dem also said " real progress" had been made in the row over net migration after Home Secretary Theresa May recently conceded that meeting a Tory target to bring it under 100,000 had become "more difficult".

"It is to Theresa May's considerable credit that she has at least stood up and accepted that that Tory net immigration target isn't going to be reached, wasn't a good idea and just dropped it," he said. "That's to her credit that she was willing to do that."

"When net immigration figures rise one of the reasons is that more British people are not emigrating, they are staying at home and that's a good thing," he added.

"More British people working overseas are coming to live here. Well so what?"

"I know there are some newspapers who have tried to caricature what I've said as 'let them all come'... I don't take that view.

"I think you do have to have managed migration and there is certainly virtually no appetite in the country for unskilled migration, and I'm all for effective immigration control."

Mr Cable also conceded that Britain's export rate was still too weak, particularly in emerging markets such as China, and said he was continuing to "make a noise in Government" about restrictions on visas with the country.

"One thing that isn't yet happening is export growth in the way that it should be," he said. "We've had some really good successes, I was in China last week, but exports are still not growing strongly. We are not yet in the German league at all. So we are beginning a process, we are very far from concluding it."

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