In yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, David Cameron’s spin doctors gave the paper their ‘four key demands to avoid Brexit’. They were:
- Forcing Brussels to make “an explicit statement” that Britain will be kept out of any move towards a European superstate. This will require an exemption for the UK from the EU’s founding principle of “ever closer union”.
- An “explicit statement” that the euro is not the official currency of the EU, making clear that Europe is a “multi-currency” union. Ministers want this declaration in order to protect the status of the pound sterling as a legitimate currency that will always exist.
- A new “red card” system to bring power back from Brussels to Britain. This would give groups of national parliaments the power to stop unwanted directives being handed down and to scrap existing EU laws.
- A new structure for the EU itself. The block of 28 nations must be reorganised to prevent the nine countries that are not in the eurozone being dominated by the 19 member states that are, with particular protections for the City of London.
Those not entirely visually challenged will spot that the abolition of EU freedom of movement (AFOM) – or guaranteed UK sovereign control over migration – is not among these demands. There are reasons for this.
In late August, the Torygraph quietly plonked a toxic sentence into an otherwise hagiographic Cameron piece as follows: ‘….Other member states will not concede treasured principles such as freedom of movement within the single market’. Note: it was not presented as an opinion, but as a fact.
So how committed is the Prime Minister to AFOM? Drill down into history, and we get this from November 2014 in the journal Euractiv: ‘Britain’s continued membership of the European Union is contingent upon it being allowed to stop migrants from the bloc tapping into its relatively generous welfare system, Prime Minister David Cameron will warn today (28 November)….Cameron will say he wants EU migrants in work to have to wait four years before they can access welfare benefits, and for unemployed EU migrants not to be eligible for any help from the British state at all….”I will negotiate a cut to EU migration and make welfare reform an absolute requirement in renegotiation,” the prime minister will say, according to advance extracts released by his office.’
So eleven months ago, migration and welfare generosity were Nos 1 & 2 on his wishlist; now they’ve slipped out of the Top 5….and been watered down.
But even back then, Cameron was not pushing for AFOM – or even Britain taking full control of its own immigration policies. He was merely saying ‘a cut in’ migration from the EU, and reduced access for unemployed EU citizens to get UK welfare benefits.
Let’s be clear (as our beloved Leader would say) about UKIP’s position on migrants: this is what their migration spokesman Steven Woolfe MEP had to say about it six days ago:
‘In the real world the UK’s immigration policies cannot be divorced from our membership of the EU and the free movement of people principles that accompany such membership….Until the government grasps the nettle and opts Britain out of free movement or leaves the EU entirely, it can only talk about controlling our borders – not actually do anything about it.”
But what seems to me obvious is that the Government has no intention of achieving either goal. It has run the demand up the flagpole, seen it shot to ribbons, and thus taken it down again. Neither is any longer a ‘key demand’. The truth is, George Osborne floated it during a Paris summit earlier this year, and left soon afterwards with a large and noisy flea in his ear.
A month ago, an opinion poll carried out by Survation for the Mail on Sunday recorded a majority of respondents wanting to leave the EU, with the overwhelming concern being immigration. The Stay Campaign is increasingly on the back foot and losing ground. Last weekend’s Telegraph piece was the first major sign that the Conservative Party wants to shift the debate towards what it can get from the EU, not what Britain needs.
This was an open goal for the UKippers, and they fluffed it.
I am on the record as saying several times that Nigel Farage’s 100% focus on immigration will lose him support among the mainstream more liberal young voter….the EU is a corrupt, bloated, bullying fascist blob sitting on every European citizen’s head – that’s why we should be leaving. Yet – having taunted the Bull for over a year – El Farrago gets the chance to give it to Camertoro in the neck…but is too busy playing to the crowd to spot the opportunity.
Mr Farage will now only have himself to blame if the PM gores him up the behind.