Nick Clegg accuses Theresa May of ‘illegal’ plans to cap EU immigration
Leaked Home Office paper suggests lower-skilled workers would only be allowed to take up jobs suffering shortages in the UK
Nick Clegg launched a stinging attack on Theresa May on Monday as he accused the Home Secretary of floating “illegal and undeliverable” plans to impose an annual cap on European Union nationals coming to work in Britain.
The Coalition row erupted after a leaked Home Office document disclosed that Ms May was examining proposals for a limit of around 75,000 EU workers a year allowed to take up jobs. It broke out with little more than a fortnight until Romanians and Bulgarians gain full rights to work in this country.
Mr Clegg laid the blame for the leak at Mrs May’s department amid suspicions that she is positioning herself to attract support among Tory right-wingers hostile to the EU. The Deputy Prime Minister 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 we have agreed as a Coalition.”
He added: “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 live and work abroad and who I don’t think would thank the Conservative Party for entering a tit-for-tat race to the bottom where everybody in the EU starts pulling up the drawbridge.”
Mr Clegg also spoke of his frustration that the Home Office had still not delivered on its commitment to introduce exit checks on visitors leaving Britain.
The leaked Home Office paper suggested that professional and highly skilled migrants from wealthy nations such as Germany and the Netherlands should only be given a work visa if they had a job, while lower-skilled workers would only be allowed to take up jobs suffering shortages.
The document, whose authenticity has not been disputed by the department, appears to contain suggestions that will form the basis of future attempts by a Tory administration to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU.
But they would be fiercely opposed by other EU countries, as they run counter to the commitment to “freedom of movement” that underpins the Union. Mrs May told MPs yesterday she was not proposing the introduction of a cap on EU workers now, but considering the “possibility of reform in the future”.
Challenged at a hearing of the Home Affairs Select Committee over Mr Clegg’s suggestion that a limit would be illegal, she said: “We’re talking about potential reforms of accession treaties for the future.”
David Cameron will press his case for reform of the EU, including restrictions on freedom of movement, when he meets fellow European leaders in Brussels on Thursday.
Downing Street insisted Britain was not isolated and other countries, including Germany, shared the Government’s concerns about “benefit tourism” and large movements of population within the EU.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, claimed Mr Clegg and Mrs May were staging a “phoney war” to distract from the lack of preparation for the arrival of Romanians and Bulgarians from 1 January.
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
- 3 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...
£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...