General Election 2010: Nick Clegg defends immigration policy

Nick Clegg said he was ”incredibly angry” with David Cameron and Gordon Brown over attacks on his party’s immigration policy.


Published: 3:08PM BST 02 May 2010

Nick Clegg defends immigration policy

2 May: Nick Clegg makes a speech the the congregation of the Life Church in Burnley, Lancashire

The Liberal Democrats’ plans to allow illegal immigrants who have been in the UK for 10 years to earn citizenship has been labelled an ”amnesty” by their political rivals on their election campaigns.

But Mr Clegg today said he was the only party leader with the ”courage” to confront a chaotic system which had been allowed to exist under successive Labour and Conservative administrations.

Mr Clegg said: ”It makes me incredibly angry that David Cameron and Gordon Brown create a problem … and are perfectly happy to turn a deaf ear to criminal gangs running amok in our community.

”I’m the only leader who actually wants to do something about it.”

The issue of immigration has been raised throughout the campaign and was the subject of a question in each of the three leaders’ debates.

In the final televised showdown Mr Cameron claimed 600,000 illegal immigrants could be given the right to remain and bring a family member to the UK under the Lib Dem proposals.

Speaking to reporters at a campaign event in Burnley, Mr Clegg hit out at the way opponents ”wholly misrepresent” his plan.

He said: ”Given that neither David Cameron nor Gordon Brown want to actually clear up the mess they created, they don’t want to be honest with you.

”I think it’s right that the Liberal Democrats are saying we have got to do something about this.

”Do you know what I want? I want to go after the criminal gangs.

”Do you remember those cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay? Those criminal gangs who put those people at risk like that, they’re evil.

”If David Cameron and Gordon Brown want to make life easy for criminals, fine.

”But I wonder how many people on the doorsteps agree with that. I don’t.

”The only people who have got anything to fear from our policy are the criminal gangs who have been exploiting the incompetence of Labour and Conservative governments.”

He continued: ”Of course I understand that our opponents wholly misrepresent what we are saying and, dare I say it, parts of the press may seek to do so as well.

”We are the only party coming up with a solution to a problem which they created.

”The problem is that David Cameron and Gordon Brown don’t have the courage to confront this.

”There are young people here in Burnley without work who are being undercut by people who are working in the illegal economy and they are happy with that. I tell you, I’m not.”

Under the Lib Dem proposals illegal immigrants who can prove they have been in the UK for 10 years and can speak English will have the right to earn citizenship after a period of community service.

Published in the Telegraph:


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