David Cameron is considering cutting benefits for EU migrants rather than curbing immigration altogether in an effort to appease Germany. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel is believed to have told the Prime Minister that if he takes steps to curb EU migration she will withdraw support for Britain’s membership of the EU.
The Prime Minister had hoped to put an annual quota on the number of migrants coming from the EU but Merkel warned this would be a “point on no return” on the path to leaving. Despite Mr Cameron’s tough rhetoric on the subject he is now believed to be urgently seeking a ‘German friendly’ solution to the problem.
This will include looking at out-of-work benefits, working families tax credits and child benefit payments. All of these are paid to EU migrants at present, but could be removed without any major changes to EU treaties. Such minor changes would enable Cameron to claim he had secured major concessions from Brussels without fundamentally changing Britain’s relationship with the EU.
The Conservative Leader in the European Parliament, Syed Kamall told The Times he had discussed plans to curb benefits with Number 10. He said: “One of the problems we face is that we have a universal benefits system, whereas other countries have the contributory benefit system.”
He continued: “Anyone who wants to get benefits would have to pay in for two years. I’d like us to say if we win the next election that benefits from the end of 2017 have to be contributory. That gives people now in the system time to contribute.”
Although Cameron has said on multiple occasions he is in favour of remaining in the EU, he is under pressure to talk tough as a result of the continued UKIP surge. Breitbart London understands an “air of gloom” has descended over Conservative HQ, as party staff recognise they are unlikely to beat UKIP in Rochester and Strood.
Party managers had hoped last month’s Clacton by-election win would be a one off for UKIP, which could be explained away because of Douglas Carswell’s popularity. In Rochester UKIP have inherited an MP with a much lower profile but that has not stopped the party pulling 15 percent ahead of the Conservatives with just weeks to go until polling day.
Under the current system EU nationals can come to Britain without any prospect of getting a job but still expect benefits. Those that do get a job are entitled to thousands of pounds in Tax Credits, which are little more than benefit payments. Parents are also able to claim child benefit for their offspring, even those living outside the UK.