Nick Clegg accuses Tories of abandoning immigration pledges

 

Deputy Political Editor

The Conservatives have quietly abandoned their pledge to cut annual net migration to “tens of thousands” because they have finally realised it is impossible, Nick Clegg will claim today.

In a scathing assessment of his Coalition partners’ handling of immigration, the Liberal Democrat leader accused them of being “fixated” of hitting the target to the exclusion of other policies such as tougher border controls.

His planned comments triggered a Coalition row, with the Tories denying the pledge had been scrapped and accusing Mr Clegg of blocking attempts to tighten the immigration system.

While in opposition, Mr Cameron said he would cut net migration to tens of thousands by the end of his first term in Government, which is now nine months away. The current number stands at 212,000.

The Deputy Prime Minister will today argue that the Coalition had been successful in turning around a system which was in “utter disarray”, but had been hindered by the Tory commitment.

“The Conservatives were completely fixated on the net migration target, and, specifically, their pledge to get it down to tens of thousands, a Tory rallying cry in opposition.

“I told David Cameron during the leaders’ debates and in the early part of Government: ‘You’ll never deliver it’. I made sure it wasn’t in the Coalition Agreement precisely because it’s unrealistic,” Mr Clegg will say.

“Thankfully the Conservatives have now softened their attachment to the net migration target and backed away from “tens of thousands.”

He will cite Mr Cameron’s failure to mention the target in a wide-ranging article last week in how best to tighten the system.

“They’ve realised they won’t deliver it and, bluntly, it’s made it much easier for us to get things done,” he will say.

He will argue swifter progress has now been made on introducing exit checks at all ports and airports, with 80 per cent of journeys now covered. If there is not total coverage by the next election, Mr Clegg will promise to include the commitment in the Lib Dem manifesto.

A Conservative source responded: “We remain committed to our target and have made great progress with non-EU migration. Nick Clegg’s comments are surprising as the Liberal Democrats have never previously raised concerns about controlling immigration. In fact, in private they have sought to block many of measures to control immigration that he’s now advocating.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world