Up to 300,000 Britons will lose entitlement to in-work benefits if David Cameron accepts a Brussels compromise on his call for strict restrictions on European Union (EU) migrant benefits.
The prime minister has been warned that is the price Britain will pay if he continues on the same path of EU negotiations amidst hardening opposition in Europe and increasingly inside his own party.
Mr. Cameron is seeking the approval of EU leaders to restrict the benefits. They say that they will agree only if he extends the measure to British citizens too, so as not to breach anti- discrimination rules.
The Times reports meeting his manifesto pledge to ban EU migrants from such benefits remains Mr. Cameron’s biggest headache as he struggles to strike a deal ahead of a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, expected next summer. He wants to use the restrictions to prove that he has sufficient concessions to campaign for a vote to remain.
It looks like Mr. Cameron will have to give ground in the face of opposition from a string of European leaders who see his proposals as discriminatory.
French President Francois Hollande warned Cameron the plan was “unacceptable”.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen as generally supportive of Britain’s position, she stressed that “the fundamental achievements of European integration” such as freedom of movement and non-discrimination were not up for debate.
Hostility within the EU is not the only problem facing Mr. Cameron. The prime minister left the Brussels summit on Friday claiming that he was “well on the way” to securing “fundamental change” to Britain’s relationship with the EU but not everyone remains convinced of his negotiating skills.
As Breitbart London has reported, members of his own Conservative Party are fast losing faith in his ability to drive a workable bargain – or any bargain at all – while those who oppose remaining in the EU are effectively silenced.
On Sunday one of Mr. Cameron’s most senior former Cabinet ministers warned that those who wish to leave the EU are not “idiots” and the time has come for the country’s leader to stop touring Europe with a “political begging bowl”.
Former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox said he will vote for a Brexit in the future referendum and he would be happy to share a platform with Ukip leader Nigel Farage in that cause.
On the other side of the argument, former Prime Minister Sir John Major took aim at those arguing that a vote to leave would allow Britain to rejoin on more favourable terms.
He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “If we vote out then we are out and we will have to face the consequences. Of course we will survive; we are a big and a powerful nation. That’s not the point. The point is, would we be as safe? No. Would we be as well off? No. Would we be as influential? No.”
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org