Business Secretary Vince Cable has come under fire from Conservatives after comparing his Coalition colleagues with Enoch Powell.
Conservative MPs criticised Mr Cable for describing them as being in a “panic” over immigration and questioned how he could continue to be a member of the Cabinet.
The Coalition’s divisions on the issue were exposed over the weekend as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised to block any attempts to curb immigration from the European Union.
Shipley MP Philip Davies said: “Cable is appalled by his Government but he is very happy to keep taking his fat Cabinet salary. I have nothing but contempt for him and his duplicity.”
He added: “If he feels so strongly he should do the decent thing and resign.”
Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills criticised Mr Cable for “effectively” comparing his coalition partners with Powell and his controversial “rivers of blood” speech on immigration.
Asked whether he thought Mr Cable should be made to leave the Cabinet, Mr Mills said: “That’s a decision above my pay grade, but it’s a particularly strange way to work with partners.
“I think Mr Cable has always had a rather creative interpretation of what collective responsibility ought to look like.
“These comments – coming on the back of, I would say, some completely sensible policy announcements by the Prime Minister to restrict welfare to people who are newly arrived here, can’t claim until they’ve paid in – I mean it just looks completely out of touch with the sentiments of most British people.
“I thought Mr Cable should have gone over his ridiculous remarks a couple of years ago, so I’m not going to change my mind now.”
In an apparent attempt to defuse tensions Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said: “Vince Cable’s a bit like an old uncle at Christmas – slightly rude, does not always make sense, but he is part of the extended family so you live with it.”