Clegg brands Tory immigration policy 'illegal and undeliverable'
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In a superbly entertaining outbreak of coalition infighting, Nick ‘Charisma’ Clegg has labelled Conservative plans to limit EU migration as ‘illegal and undeliverable’. Presumably at the end of an extraordinarily long tether with populist Tory rhetoric on immigration, he seems to have cracked with overdue exasperation.
Conservative immigration policy has long foamed away in the no-man’s land between UKIP, a hysterical right wing press, their jingoistic party base and reality. Rather like their European policy.
Add in Teresa May’s headfirst plunge into ‘Home Secretary Syndrome’ – the pathological need to look tough, and we have a steaming pile of dubious policy initiatives.
Most objective evidence suggests the Britain has benefitted economically from immigration, but rather like the fear of crime increasing in inverse proportion to falling crime, the Tories have taken the gutsy decision to pander and reinforce stereotypes.
With Theresa May seeking to impose a cap on the number of EU citizens working in Britain, Nick Clegg accused the government of ‘foolishly flirting’ with EU exit and leaking ‘illegal and undeliverable’ policies. In a stinging rebuke delivered at a press conference, Clegg said
“My advice to the Home Office is to spend less time leaking policies that are illegal and undeliverable and spend more time delivering on the policies that we have agreed as a coalition government, notably the reinstatement of exit checks. I remain very frustrated that the Home Office has still not delivered something which I personally insisted should be in the coalition agreement, which is a reinstatement of the checks which allow us to know not only who is coming into this country but who is leaving as well.”
“Beyond that I would just state the obvious. If we pulled up the drawbridge now and said to German lawyers or Finnish engineers or Dutch accountants they can't come to work it would be a disaster for our economy. We are an open economy. The City of London would grind to a halt overnight. It would be very unwelcome to the two million Brits who work abroad.”
Sadly, his words are likely to fall on deaf ears as the Conservatives whip themselves up into a paroxysm of fear and outrage. The Home Secretary and David Cameron are nervously eying up an all out backbench rebellion and are fumbling to keep their own party onside, even as momentous consequences loom on the horizon.