Nick Clegg to announce break from Tories on immigration

Lib Dem leader will stress party's role in ending child detention and pledge to ensure migrants are fairly paid

Nick Clegg will attempt to strike free from the Conservatives on immigration this week by declaring that the Liberal Democrats are Britain's "only real internationalist party" – the only one that does not "meet every visitor with automatic suspicion".

In a pointed response to David Cameron's fresh crackdown on immigrants through the benefits system last week, the Deputy Prime Minister will say in a speech that his party has fought to end the "barbaric" practice of child detention, by enshrining the ban in the Immigration Act, and that it wants Britain to be outward facing. "If you come here, if you play your part, Britain will give you a chance," he will say.

The speech by the Lib Dem leader affords an insight into how the two coalition parties will fight the general election on immigration, one of the most divisive issues for all political parties. The political summer has started with all three parties stepping up policy announcements, in the clearest signal that the election campaign is already under way. Immigration is one of the top issues voters raise on the doorstep.

Last week, in a clear pitch to voters who have left the Conservatives for Ukip, the Prime Minister announced a halving from six to three months of the period for which EU migrants can claim benefits in the UK. He declared that he wanted to put "Britain first" and make it clear that the UK is "a country that is not a soft touch".

In his speech, Mr Clegg will emphasise that he favours a "firm but fair, tough but smart" immigration system. The "firm" measures include new plans to crack down on sham marriages, while one of the "fair" policies is to ensure that employers pay migrants at least the minimum wage.

But in remarks intended to differentiate his party from the Conservatives, Mr Clegg will say: "It should come as no surprise that I'm a believer in the benefits of a well-managed immigration system. I lead, in my view, Britain's only real internationalist party. For the Liberal Democrats this nation is always at its best when we are open and outward facing.

Nick Clegg condemned the Home Office immigration van policy Nick Clegg condemned the Home Office immigration van policy

"Our brand of patriotism draws immense pride from living in a country which, throughout its history, has always said: if you come here, if you contribute, if you play your part, Britain will give you a chance.

"We don't meet every visitor with automatic suspicion. We believe everyone, no matter where they come from, should be treated with respect. It wasn't the Liberal Democrats, for example, who arranged for vans emblazoned with the words 'Go Home' to prowl around the streets of north London."

He added: "Had Jeremy Browne – the Liberal Democrat in the Home Office at the time – been consulted on this we would have put a stop to it then and there. It was the Liberal Democrats, by contrast, who insisted that the coalition's Immigration Act [would outlaw] child detention: no more putting children stuck in the immigration system behind bars. Labour locked up thousands and thousands of little boys and girls every year. We stopped it as soon as we came into power. We'll leave this Government knowing that no future Labour government – or indeed any government – will be able to do it again."

Aides said Mr Clegg was "extremely proud" of enshrining in law an end to the practice of locking children up for months in "hellholes" like the notorious asylum centre at Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire.

Some 2,000 sham marriages are reported every year, with criminal gangs charging thousands of pounds to supply "wives"; these are usually vulnerable women from Eastern Europe who are trafficked to the UK as "anchor brides".

Under the sham marriages clampdown, registrars will be expected to tell the Home Office if they suspect anything illegal is going on. The notice period for couples seeking to marry or enter into a civil partnership will be extended from 15 to 28 days. If an alert is raised, proceedings will be paused for up to 70 days for the Home Office to investigate.

Measures to ensure a minimum wage for migrants include raising the number of inspectors whose job is to identify businesses that use workers from abroad as cheap labour. Mr Clegg will say: "Rather than just respond to tip-offs they will proactively go after the worst offending employers, including those who run care homes, recruitment agencies and top-class hotels."

Lords list

Karren Brady, star of BBC's The Apprentice, will be given a peerage when the next appointees to the House of Lords are confirmed this month.

The 45-year-old Conservative Party small business ambassador has long been seen as a potential candidate for a safe Tory seat in the House of Commons, having supported the party since she was 18. Ms Brady, who is vice-chairman of West Ham United and has been dubbed "the first lady of football", is the most eye-catching name on a business-friendly list of appointees to the upper chamber which was part-leaked to Sky News yesterday. Michael Farmer, a Tory donor and former co-treasurer, is also expected to be ennobled.

Sir Stuart Rose, the former Marks & Spencer chief executive, has been lined up as a Conservative peer. There are expected to be about 20 additional members of the House of Lords, three of whom are Labour nominations.

Mark Leftly and Jane Merrick

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral