01/12/2014 06:54 GMT | Updated 02/12/2014 08:59 GMT

Tories Under Fire As EU Migrants Shun UK For Germany

Nick Clegg has ripped into the Tories' stance towards Europe after it emerged that more migrants are actually going to Germany than Britain.

Prime Minister David Cameron signalled last week that he was prepared to lead Britain out of the European Union if other member states refuse to compromise on curbs to the principle of free movement, which the UK government blames for a recent surge in immigration.

But according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), nearly 30% of migrants moving under free movement rules within the EU in 2012 travelled to Germany, compared to 7% to the UK.

Professor Christian Dustmann, co-author of a study which found that the UK gained £20 billion from EU migrants in a decade, said that politicians' "overly hostile language" may be to blame.

"The Swiss referendum rejected controls on immigration, although net immigration to that country - relative to the population - is larger than to the UK, and one in four residents are foreign born," he told the Huffington Post UK.

"There is an international competition for talent, and overly hostile language may send the wrong signals."

Last week, official figures showed net migration rising to 260,000 in the year to June - 16,000 higher than when the coalition came to office.

The OECD said the number of foreign nationals living in the UK rose to 4.9 million in 2013 - or 7.9% of the total UK population.

Citizens of the ten Eastern European countries that joined the EU from 2004 onwards make up 25.8% of all foreigners residing in the United Kingdom and over half are from Poland.

However, despite an increase of close to 2% since 2012, the OECD said the number of permanent immigrants entering the UK remains 15% below pre-crisis levels of 2007.

Clegg has slammed the Tories' EU stance as it emerges migrants prefer Germany to UK

The OECD said 46% of the foreign born population in the UK is considered to be highly-educated, a "stark" difference compared to 33% of the native population. Furthermore, in Britain, native-born youth are more likely to be outside employment, education and training, than foreign-born youth.

Stefano Scarpetta, OECD director for employment, labour and social affairs, said: "Today's migrants are better educated than their predecessors.

"The number of foreign-born who are highly-educated has grown by 70% over the past decade to exceed 31 million in the OECD area. Over that period, highly educated immigrants accounted for 45% of the increase in the foreign born population."

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Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has accused the Tories of putting the jobs of three million British workers at risk as a result of the row over membership of the European Union.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the jobs depended on the UK being a "leading member" of the EU and accused the Conservatives of "wildly" flip-flopping on the issue.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme: "One minute we are led to believe they are within a millimetre of advocating complete withdrawal from the European Union - that is something you will never, ever hear from me or from the Liberal Democrats.

"Because we believe, much though the European Union needs to be reformed, it is essential - three million of our fellow citizens' jobs depend on our position of being a leading member of what is the world's largest borderless single market of 500 million consumers.

"We would never jeopardise that in the way that the Conservatives are."

Cameron signalled last week in a keynote speech on immigration that unemployed Europeans heading to Britain to find work will have six months to find a job or they will be kicked out.

His proposals may be hard to enact as the European Parliament's President Martin Schulz has warned that they would need the approval of all the rest of the European Union's member states.

"Let's be clear," he told the Huffington Post UK. "If they [Cameron's proposals] are not in the interests of all 28 member states, we will not get it [any re-negotiation]."

Schulz said that the UK was not part of the Schengen Group [26 European member states without border control] or in the euro, and the rest of the member states would only look at any new proposals for change once they were concrete.

"He says ‘our relationship with the European Union’, well, this is a relationship with yourself. The UK is a member of the EU. I don’t negotiate about my relationship with myself, it’s a little bit strange."

The Prime Minister said that those with jobs will only receive in-work benefits, such as tax credits, and social housing once they have been in the UK for four years.

No child benefits or tax credits for children living elsewhere in Europe will be paid out, regardless of how long an EU migrant has paid into UK coffers under the plans.

The Tory leader insisted the package of measures he is unveiling will mean Britain has the toughest welfare system for EU migrants anywhere in Europe.

He said: "People have understandably become frustrated. It boils down to one word: control. People want Government to have control over the numbers of people coming here and the circumstances in which they come, both from around the world and from within the European Union. And yet in recent years, it has become clear that successive Governments have lacked control. People want grip."

Photo gallery 10 Desperate Ways The Tories Tried To Cut Net Migration See Gallery