Ministers were accused today of drawing up secret plans to increase immigration – and branding opponents of the controversial scheme ‘racist’.
A previously unseen joint Cabinet Office and Home Office report called for increases in foreign workers to meet the Government’s ‘economic and social objectives’.
But it also stated that the public would be opposed to the shift because of ‘racism’ and urged ministers to try to alter public attitudes towards immigrants.
The document, which was written in July 2000 and released under the Freedom of Information Act, outlined plans for a step change in the number of both high and low skilled migrants.
A draft version of the report emerged last week, but the full copy was finally released today.
In it, the authors warned: ‘Policy development is constrained by public opinion and the current tone of public debate.’
‘It is correct that public opinion favours relatively restrictive policies on immigration.’
Sections advising ministers to adopt a ‘clear strategy for public opinion and public debate’ to change views were removed from the published version.
Critics said the document showed ministers ‘deliberately rode roughshod’ over the public.
There was outrage last year after Andrew Neather, a former Labour speechwriter, revealed in a newspaper column that the loosening of controls in the early 2000s was part of a deliberate political agenda.
The ‘immigration boom’ of the last decade was engineered in part to change society by making it more multicultural, he said.