Migrants will have to wait at least four years before receiving welfare payments and social housing, the Prime Minister is expected to say today. Speaking in the West Midlands, David Cameron will say that major changes to Britain’s immigration rules will be an “absolute requirement” when negotiating with the EU, and will even indicate that he could be prepared to leave the bloc.
The Prime Minister will add, however, that he is “confident” he can negotiate a new deal over Britain’s EU membership, with tougher immigration measures, which will allow him to campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union in 2017.
If the EU does not meet his demands, though, he will “rule nothing out” – the strongest indication yet that he could take Britain out of the European Union.
The measures will include stopping migrants claiming child benefit and tax credits for children not living in the UK, removing economic migrants after six months if they do not find work, restricting the rights of newly-arrived migrants to bring family members with them and stopping citizens from new EU members from working in Britain until their economies “converge more closely” with existing members.
The Prime Minister will add that the concerns of British people on immigration “must be heard”, in a speech designed to woo back disaffected Conservative Party supporters who have gone over to UKIP.
“The British people will not understand – frankly I will not understand – if a sensible way through cannot be found, which will help settle this country’s place in the EU once and for all,” he will say.
The Prime Minister’s comments come the day after official figures showed that net immigration to Britain has hit record numbers, with 260,000 extra people entering the country in the year up to July 2014. The figures were highly embarrassing for the government, leaving a pledge to reduce net immigration to the “tens of thousands” in tatters.
With the increase largely due to immigration from within the EU, the Prime Minister will be hoping to reclaim the initiative with his proposals today and limit the damage.