PM ‘may demand immigration curbs’

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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David Cameron could demand restrictions on immigration from other EU states as a “red line” condition of Britain remaining a member within weeks, it was reported.

The Prime Minister has been under intense pressure from eurosceptic Tory MPs to set out details of his strategy for renegotiating the relationship with Brussels ahead of a promised 2017 in/out referendum if the party remains in power after next year’s general election.

Facing a tough fight to prevent another Commons seat being lost to Ukip at the Rochester and Strood by-election on November 20, he this week promised backbenchers a “big bang announcement”.

That followed a party conference speech in which he declared his intent to “not take no for an answer” over reform of freedom of movement rights, one of the fundamental pillars of the EU treaties, which would be “at the very heart of my renegotiation strategy for Europe”.

But he has declined to state whether he would be prepared to back a British exit, insisting he is confident of success in the negotiations, with other leaders increasingly amenable to reforms.

The Sun said details of the proposed restrictions – which could involve caps on arrivals from certain countries or an Australian-style points system – remained to be finalised.

But it quoted a senior Whitehall official as saying: ” Attitudes across Europe are changing fast, faster than a lot of people think, and David is now convinced he can achieve this in the renegotiation.

“If he cannot, then he will make it equally clear that we will be prepared to go our own way.”

The official added: “It is now clear that reasserting some control on the level of immigration from other EU countries is the only way we can get the numbers down to practicable levels again, which is what people want.

“So he will make it clear that this is what Britain wants, and it is no longer negotiable.”

Ukip MEP Patrick O’Flynn dismissed the reports as Mr Cameron’s ” latest imaginary migration crackdown”.

Mr Cameron is due to make a series of visits to the Kent seat vacated by Mark Reckless, who announced his defection to Ukip on the eve of the Conservative Party conference, to personally spearhead the fight.

Voter fears over immigration are a key driver of the rapid advance in Ukip support that saw another defector, Douglas Carswell, easily returned to his Clacton seat as the first MP elected under the anti-EU party banner.

A YouGov poll for The Sun put Ukip on 19%, with Labour and the Tories on 33% and 31% – the lowest combined score for the two main parties in this Parliament so far.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Business for Britain, which campaigns for fundamental reform of the EU said: ” The PM has to secure changes to freedom of movement as he knows otherwise, the public will simply vote ‘Out’ come what may in an EU referendum.

“The EU must reform and become more competitive, otherwise Britain will and should leave because the status quo is becoming increasingly unacceptable to both business and the public.”

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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