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David Cameron has suggested that an immigration cap may be flexible after businesses and universities protested that the move would make them uncompetitive.

The Coalition has pledged to introduce an annual cap on non-European immigration, reducing net immigration to the UK to “tens of thousands” of people each year. However today the prime minister hinted that skilled foreign workers would still be allowed to work in the UK.

In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry annual conference, Cameron said: "Let me give you this assurance. As we control our borders and bring immigration to a manageable level, we will not impede you from attracting the best talent from around the world."

The remarks come after business leaders slammed the immigration cap, claiming that it has led to a shortage of skilled workers.

The government has already imposed a temporary limit of 24,000 skilled non-EU workers in July, wants to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands.

Related: UK immigration cap to be announced  Changes to UK immigration on the cards


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