UK rejects Barroso's warning over immigration rhetoric

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told British Prime Minister David Cameron he risked upsetting allies and losing international clout if he pursued an anti-immigration agenda designed to please domestic voters

UK rejects Barroso's warning over immigration rhetoric

World Bulletin/News Desk

The U.K. has rejected warnings from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that Britain would be making a "historic mistake" if it decided to curb freedom of movement or leave the European Union.

Barroso said in a speech at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs think tank Chatham House on Monday that a plan by British Prime Minister David Cameron to impose an "arbitrary cap" on immigrants from eastern Europe was contrary to EU law and would alienate the UK's allies in the union.

The outgoing EC President said: "In the years to come the UK could be facing a choice – to stay or leave the European Union.

"There are widespread concerns in the UK and elsewhere about abuse of free movement rights ... I believe that any further changes ... should not put into question this basic right, which cannot be decoupled from other single market freedoms."

He went on: "It would be an historic mistake if, on these issues, Britain were to continue to alienate its natural allies in Central and Eastern Europe."

'Principle at stake'

In unusually strong words for a senior European representative, Barroso added: "It is an illusion to believe that space for dialogue can be created if the tone and substance of the arguments you put forward question the very principle at stake and offend fellow Member States."

But a Downing Street source told the BBC that the status quo in the EU was not acceptable to the UK.

The source said Cameron would listen to Barroso's argument but Britain needed to negotiate a better deal with the bloc, adding that, if concerns were addressed, the EU "would be a very suitable place for us".

Referring to the recent Scottish independence referendum, Barroso had said that many of the arguments used by the three main political parties to keep Scotland in the union of the United Kingdom could also be applied to EU membership. 

“Rationally many of the arguments used by the three main political parties in the Scottish debate are just as relevant for British membership of the EU,” he stated and criticized negative reports on the EU by sections of the British media.

He said: “You need to start making that positive case well in advance, because if people read only negative and often false portrayals in their newspapers from Monday to Saturday, you cannot expect them to nail the European flag on their front door on Sunday, just because the political establishment tells them it is the right thing to do.”

Under pressure

A Downing Street spokesman said later on Monday that Cameron would set out further plans to curb the rights of EU migrants to work in the UK before Christmas, although a decision had not been taken.

Cameron's Conservative party has been under pressure from the anti-EU and anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) over the past year with the conservatives losing many votes to UK and two Conservative party members defecting to it.

Cameron has responded by taking a stronger line on the EU and immigration to address the growing concerns of his party members.

Douglas Carswell sparked a by-election when he switched from the Conservative Party to UKIP in August and stood down from his Clacton, Essex, parliamentary seat.

He retook the constituency for UKIP with a 12,404 majority.

Weeks later, Mark Reckless, the Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, announced he was also defecting to UKIP.

 

Last Mod: 20 Ekim 2014, 14:48
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