Cameron Puts Immigration at Heart of European-Union Talks

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron
said he will put immigration from other European Union members
at the center of talks with the 28-nation bloc in an attempt to
stem the threat from the U.K. Independence Party.

“We are committed to putting EU migration right at the
heart of our negotiations in Europe,” Cameron wrote in a Sunday
Telegraph article published yesterday, appealing to voters to
back his Conservative Party in a straight contest with Labour at
next May’s general election.

A vote for UKIP, which gives unconstrained immigration from
EU countries as one reason for leaving the club, would help
Labour win the election, Cameron said. The prime minister
pledged in 2013 that he would call an in-or-out referendum on
the U.K.’s membership of the EU in 2017 if he wins next year’s
election. The government is currently seeking to renegotiate the
terms of its relationship with the EU.

“It is only the Conservative Party that is offering you
that in-out referendum on Europe in 2017,” Cameron wrote in the
article. “There would be a terrible irony if people who care
about these issues voted UKIP — making a Labour government more
likely. They would vote for controlled immigration and get the
Labour politicians who opened Britain’s borders.”

Cameron plans to restrict immigration from the EU by
limiting access to National Insurance numbers for low-skilled
workers, the Sunday Times reported yesterday. The PM will
include the cap in an upcoming speech setting out a tougher
immigration policy, the newspaper said citing unidentified
government officials.

Limiting Migration

When asked about the report, outgoing European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso said a limit on internal EU
migration would contravene the club’s laws.

“The freedom of movement is a very important principle in
the internal market,” Barroso, whose term ends Oct. 31, said in
a television interview on the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show”
yesterday. “Any kind of arbitrary cap seems to me to be not in
conformity with European rules.”

The commission head warned the U.K. would have little
influence globally if it left the political bloc.

“Britain is stronger in the European Union,” he told
Marr. “There is a willingness to accommodate the concerns of
Britain, provided they are not incompatible to our overall
agreed principles.”

Cameron wants to reduce annual net immigration from 243,000
in the year through March to fewer than 100,000 in 2015.
He has promised tighter welfare rules for migrants and a block
on people coming from countries that join the EU in the future.

‘Taking Off’

“We’ve seen in the last few years a situation where the
U.K. economy has taken off. Europe, in some cases, teeters on
recession,” Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps said in an
interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “The World This Weekend”
yesterday. “We cannot have an open-ended situation where people
are able to always come to Britain in such a lop-sided

The leaders of the EU’s member states meet at a summit in
Brussels on Oct. 23-24.

UKIP won its first elected seat in the House of Commons
this month in Clacton in southeast England, following the
defection of Conservative lawmaker Douglas Carswell. In the
constituency of Rochester and Strood, southeast of London,
Carswell’s friend Mark Reckless has followed suit and is bidding
to win the seat for UKIP in a Nov. 20 by-election.

The prime minister has not decided whether to unveil his
plans for the National Insurance cap before the Rochester vote,
the Sunday Times said yesterday.

‘Vague Promises’

“We will see what David Cameron can deliver, but at the
moment all we’ve seen are vague promises aimed at the Rochester
and Strood by-election because Tory Eurosceptics are defecting,
instead of the practical plans and real action that is
required,” David Hanson, the opposition party’s spokesman for
immigration matters, said yesterday.

A ComRes poll published yesterday in the Independent on
Sunday and Sunday Mirror newspapers found support for the
Conservatives rose 2 percentage points to 31 percent in the last
month, while Labour fell 1 point to 34 percent. The poll of
2,000 adults conducted Oct. 15-16 showed backing for UKIP and
the Liberal Democrats was unchanged at 19 percent and 7 percent,

To contact the reporter on this story:
Scott Hamilton in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Emma Charlton at
Will Hadfield, Rachel Graham

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Cameron Puts Immigration at Heart of European-Union Talks
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