Thursday, 27 November 2014
David Cameron to tell EU: cut all tax credits to migrants
Migrants from the European Union will have to work in Britain for a minimum of four years before they can claim benefits, David Cameron will propose on Friday in a major speech setting out a vision of how the EU can control the free movement of workers – and how he is willing to leave the union if he does not get his way.
In an attempt to restore his shattered credibility on immigration, the prime minister will say that Britain’s EU membership is now dependent on nation states being able to withhold almost all benefits from EU migrants.
The proposal – which would affect more than 300,000 EU migrants working in Britain and claiming tax credits – is designed to reduce the disparities in takehome pay between that earned by EU migrants working in Britain and in their birthplace, and is aimed squarely at the low-skilled end of the labour market.
The plan to make Britain a less attractive place is an implicit acknowledgement that cutting back on EU migrants’ access to out-of-work benefits – the main thrust of coalition policy so far – is ineffective, since migrants come to work rather than as “benefit tourists”. The proposal, which would require a rewriting of the EU’s social security rules, and possibly treaties, is to be delivered in an address in the West Midlands and will in effect set out Cameron’s terms for recommending Britain continue its 41-year-old membership of the EU in a referendum scheduled for 2017.
Insisting his proposals are not outlandish and deserve to be heard, Cameron will promise: “I will negotiate a cut to EU migration and make welfare reform an absolute requirement in renegotiation.”
Significantly, Cameron has held back from calling for an emergency brake to give nation states power to block EU migrants if there is an unexpectedly large surge of migrants.
His proposals are therefore predicated on a cut in potential income for EU migrants being sufficient to slow the numbers of poorer EU migrants coming to the UK.
But the prime minister will make it clear he is willing to leave the EU if his points are not addressed, though that is not his purpose.
Culled from The Guardian.