The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and a senior member of the Liberal Democrat Party, Vince Cable, has expressed his displeasure at the UK government’s plan to make certain overseas visitors to the United Kingdom pay a £3,000 bond to obtain tourist visas.
According to the 70-year-old politician who also has a Phd in Economics from the University of Glasgow, it sends out the “wrong message” about the UK.
“It is very disappointing and it has not been agreed across the coalition and it seems to send the wrong message that Britain is closed for business,” Mr Cable said.
It was recently announced that despite an outcry from the governments of the countries affected, the UK governments is still committed to it’s plan to ask some visitors from India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for a visitor visa to allow them to stay in the UK for up to six months. The Home Office said the scheme would deter people from overstaying, but governments in India and Nigeria have expressed “strong displeasure” about the plans.
Vince Cable added: “The operation for the visa scheme, together with the bonds on these Commonwealth countries is simply having the effect of driving bona fide visitors who want to spend and to do business in the UK to France and Germany”.
This is the latest attack on a government policy from Mr Cable who on Sunday dubbed a mobile advertising campaign telling illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest” as “stupid and offensive”.
Mr Cable’s remarks are particularly embarrassing for Nick Clegg, his party leader and Deputy Prime Minister, who originally proposed a visitor bond as a way of making his party appear tough on immigration. However, the policy has proved deeply unpopular with many others in the parliamentary party. “The Liberal Democrats agreed for a bond scheme as an additional route for people who have been turned down, it was never meant to apply to everyone,” Mr Cable explained.
Luxury goods retailers in particular have become very jittery over the visa bond scheme especially as the Christmas shopping season approaches. They fear that Nigerians, who are the sixth biggest spenders on luxury goods in the UK, will be affected by the scheme.
Nigerians may, however, take some consolation in the fact that Vince Cable usually has the last laugh whenever he opposes an unpopular government policy being mooted by the Conservatives, his party’s coalition partners.
In December 2010, Mr. Cable was caught out by two undercover reporters saying he was planning to use his powers as the Business Secretary to frustrate Rupert Murdock’s plan to acquire the remaining shares his company, News International, wasn’t holding with BSkyB, Britain’s biggest private media company. As a result of this, some of his powers were stripped making it impossible for him to carry out his plans. Rupert Murdock has very strong ties with the Prime Minister.
About six or seven months later, it was discovered that Rupert Murdock’s company, News International, was involved in large scale phone tapping including that of Miley Dowler, a missing teenager who eventually turned up dead. What was particularly galling about Milly Dowler’s case was that in order to tap her phone some of her voice messages had to be deleted giving her parents the false impression that she was still alive while she had already been killed.
While David Cameron was in Lagos sometime in July 2011, trying to stoke up some investments for the UK, Rupert Murdock was being grilled by Members of Parliament over his company’s involvement in the phone hacking scandal.
It goes without saying that his company’s plans to acquire the BSkyB shares became ‘dead in the water’ and remains so till date.
Mr. Vince Cable had the last laugh and like the wise old man that he is, did not gloat about it.