Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Britain's Cameron Toughens Line on Immigration

British Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled proposals designed to curb the flow of people coming to the U.K. from other European Union countries, in a high stakes move that could result in Britain moving closer to an exit from the European Union.
He announced the measures in a speech Friday that marks a significant escalation in his rhetoric on immigration, which is shaping up to be a key issue in the U.K. general election in May.
The increasingly vocal debate in the U.K. echoes that in other countries across the continent as the economic downturn sparked by the recent financial crisis has thrust the issue to the forefront of the political agenda and given rise to anti-EU parties.
In the speech, Mr. Cameron said migrants coming from the EU should have to wait at least four years before receiving benefits such as tax credits or access to state-subsidized housing. EU migrants also would no longer be eligible to receive state child welfare payments unless their children have moved with them to Britain, to stop the practice of using the handouts to support family in their home country.
In a veiled threat to the rest of Europe, the prime minister also said the proposals will be “an absolute requirement” in a renegotiation he has pledged to hold with the EU if he wins a second term. If he succeeds, he said he would campaign to keep Britain in the bloc in a national referendum on EU membership to be held by the end of 2017—but if he fails to secure those changes, “I rule absolutely nothing out,” he said.
The tougher stance appears to be aimed at placating those in his center-right Conservative Party who argue the increase in immigrants is straining public services, such as schools and housing. Adding to the pressure on Mr. Cameron is the small but growing growing rivalU.K. Independence Party that is winning over some traditional Conservative voters with its tough-on-immigration message.
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