Last of 3 televised debates hijacked by immigration issue
30th April 2010: Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg insisted he was not in favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants, while Conservative leader David Cameron reiterated the party stand of cutting down on immigration.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on the other hand, emphasized the need to put a limit to economic migration in areas with sufficient home-grown workers.
The assertions came during the last of the three televised debates. The focus of the debate was to be on the economy, but immigration issue pushed its way to the top of the agenda.
The debate gave way to heated arguments after Brown and Cameron blamed the Liberal Democrats for planning an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Responding to the allegations, Clegg said unlike Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson he was not in favour of an amnesty.
He said it was very much the style of old politics, making misleading claims. Addressing Cameron, Clegg said why don’t they save time and just assume every time he spoke about Lib Dem policies, he was wrong.
Launching a counter attack, Clegg asked for the number of EU residents, who would be permitted into Britain under the Conservatives’ proposed immigration cap.
He said both the Conservative and Labour governments ‘created chaos in the immigration system’ and this could not be overlooked.
Clegg said the immigrants were here whether they like it or not; and added it was better to get out of hands of criminals people who’ve been here for a decade, who speak English, who want to play by the rules, who want to pay their taxes, who want to come out of the shadows, and do community service to make up for what they’ve done wrong.
He agreed the Lib Dem proposal ‘might be controversial’ but insisted ‘get real – this is a problem you created, we now need to sort it on a one-off basis’.
Clegg insisted he was not advocating an amnesty but was of the opinion something was needed to be done about the people ‘living in the shadows of our economy’.
Cameron said immigration was out of control these last few years and, from what he has heard, the Liberal Democrats would make it much worse.
Cameron said immigration in the country has been too high for too long, and that’s why they had got a very clear approach to cut it quite substantially.
He proposing a cap on non-EU migrants and ‘transition controls’ for new EU countries, while adding he wanted to get back to a situation where net inward migration was in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands.
Referring to the amnesty issue, he said people do need to know that the Liberal Democrats propose an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
That could mean some 600,000 people here illegally would actually be allowed to stay here and be given full citizenship, access to welfare, access to council housing and could also each bring a relative into our country.
It just doesn’t make sense, he said, adding it was a complete mistake which would make even worse a bad situation they had under 13 years of Labour.
Cameron restated with the implementation of Tory policies they wouldn’t hear on the doorsteps and the streets people worried about immigration.
Focusing on the need to limit economic migration in areas with enough home-grown workers, Brown said reason he wanted to be in politics was to create jobs.
Brown said when it came to immigration, I wanted a situation where they increase the number of jobs that people trained in Britain could take as they lowered the numbers of people coming into this country.
He said unskilled workers from outside Europe had been banned from coming into Britain, and the number of semi-skilled and skilled workers was being reduced.
A YouGov survey for the Sun showed Cameron gaining 41 per cent audience approval. Clegg gained 32 and Gordon Brown 25 per cent audience approval.