Theresa May’s EU immigration cap is illegal says Clegg

Proposals by Theresa May to cap immigration from EU countries would be "illegal and undeliverable" and cause massive harm to the economy, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said today.

Under May's plans, immigration from the EU would be capped at 75,000 individuals a year, down from around 106,000 at present.

Speaking at his monthly press conference, Clegg said May's plans would be a "disaster" for the UK.

"My advice to the home office is to spend less time leaking policies that are illegal and undeliverable and more time delivering on the policies that we have agreed as a coalition government," Clegg said.

"If we pulled up the drawbridge now and said to German lawyers or Finnish engineers or Dutch accountants that they can't come to work here it would be a disaster for our economy.

"The City of London would grind to a halt overnight. It would be very, very bad for British business and the health of the economy.

"And I think it would be very unwelcome to the two million or so Brits who live and work abroad who I don't think would thank the Conservative party for entering into a sort of tit-for-tat race to the bottom."

Clegg also attacked May for blocking plans to reinstate exit checks on UK borders.

"I have been very frustrated that the Home Office has still not delivered something which I personally insisted should be in the coalition agreement," he said.

He told that it was now included in his "little black book" of policies blocked by the Conservatives.

"I have a fairly thick volume of things that I would love to do if I was prime minister," he told

He added that the Conservatives had also blocked plans to build "more housing on a quicker scale" and further regulate the banks.

He also refused to rule out backing a third runway at Heathrow, saying he would "wait and see" what Howard Davies recommends in his report on aviation expansion tomorrow.

Clegg has previously promised that the coalition would not agree any expansion of Heathrow within this parliament.