There were signs of a fightback against the Conservative's increasingly harsh anti-immigration rhetoric today, after a group of MPs joined together to make the case for a more moderate approach.
Over a dozen Tory MPs will unveil Conservatives for Managed Migration on Tuesday, with Mark Field warning that the party risked damaging the UK's economic performance with its goal of reducing immigration to the 'tens of thouands'.
He added: "The rumbling threat of Ukip has only stiffened the resolve of mainstream parties to keep tough talk on immigration firmly on the front pages.
"The tone of debate suggests there is no middle ground between rabid, drawbridge-raising right-wingers and soft liberals bent on scrapping immigration controls.
"In such a febrile atmosphere it has become almost impossible to have the rational debate we need. The relentless focus on immigration by the Conservative party seems to the outsider to border on near-obsession."
The MPs will find willing allies in the Liberal Democrats, with Vince Cable being particularly vocal about the damaging effect of the "arbitrary" tens of thousands goal on foreign investment and Britain's reputation overseas.
Ministers are particularly concerned about the effect of a foreign student clampdown on Britain's higher education industry and a reluctance from Chinese busineses to engage with the UK's complex visa requirements.