This week the Prime Minister set out the objectives of Britain’s renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union.


His four key objectives are:


  1. To protect countries like Britain that do not have the euro with binding arrangements to ensure fairness.

  2. To write competitiveness into the DNA of the whole EU – including cutting the total burden on business.

  3. To exempt Britain from an ‘ever closer union’ and bolster national parliaments, through legally binding and irreversible changes.

  4. To tackle abuses of the right to free movement, and enable us to control migration from the EU.

    The Prime Minister said that “the principle of the free movement of labour is a basic treaty right and it is a key part of the single market”.  He pointed out that over a million of our own citizens benefit from their right to live and work anywhere in the EU.


    But he argued that “free movement has never been an unqualified right”, and that he wanted to restore a sense of fairness to our immigration system and to reduce the current very high level of migration from within the EU into the UK.


    Already, the Government has acted so that EU migrants will not be able to claim Universal Credit while looking for work, and if those coming from the EU haven’t found work within six months, they can be required to leave.


    But the Prime Minister wants to go further to reduce the numbers coming here.  So he proposed that people coming to Britain from the EU must live here and contribute for four years before they qualify for in work benefits or social housing.  They would also not be able to send child benefit overseas.


    These proposals on immigration were regarded as the hardest on which to reach agreement on the EU.  The Prime Minister said that he was “open to different ways of dealing with this issue”, but pointed to his manifesto commitment to control immigration.


    The formal negotiations now begin, and the law will require a referendum on our EU membership by the end of 2017.  It could come sooner.

    So we will all have a say in the final decision, and now the debate begins.



12 November 2015

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