David Cameron sets out immigration reforms: We should distrust Ukip and their 'snake-oil of simple solutions'

Prime Minister says he has 'no truck with those who use immigration to foment division'

David Cameron today launched a fight-back against Ukip as he accused Nigel Farage’s party of attempting to "foment division" and of pandering to prejudice over immigration.

His attack came as the Prime Minister detailed "radical" plans to restrict benefit payments to European Union migrants in an attempt to reverse sharp increases in levels of immigration.

Mr Cameron’s long-awaited speech, at the JCB factory in Staffordshire, suffered an unexpected glitch as an alarm went off. He was forced to break off from a key section, in which he was to set out his plans to curb benefits, until the siren was switched off.

Although he did not refer to Ukip or Mr Farage by name, he clearly had the anti-EU party in his sights as he warned that politicians needed to use careful language over immigration.

“We must anchor the debate in fact, not prejudice.

“We must have no truck with those who use immigration to foment division or as a surrogate for other agendas. We should distrust those who sell the snake-oil of simple solutions.”

The isolationism of those who want to “pull up the drawbridge” and shut off immigration altogether is “actually deeply unpatriotic”, he said.

“For the sake of British jobs, British livelihoods and British opportunities we must fight this dangerous and misguided view that our nation can withdraw from the world and somehow all will be well.”

Video: PM's immigration speech sets alarm bells ringing. Literally

Mr Cameron emphasised the benefits to Britain of EU membership, insisting he believed he could succeed in wresting powers back to this country from Brussels.

But he also signalled he was prepared to argue for the UK to leave the Union as a last resort if other member states resisted his plans to cut benefits to migrants.

“If our concerns fall on deaf ears and we cannot put our relationship with the EU on a better footing, then of course I rule nothing out.

“But I am confident that, with good-will and understanding, we can and will succeed.”

He set out plans to ban EU migrants from claiming in-work benefits for four years after arriving in Britain.

Under the proposals, to be included in the Tory manifesto, migrants would be barred from claiming benefits such as tax credits and housing benefit, as well as on entitlement to social housing.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to stop jobless EU nationals receiving benefits and to toughen rules on removing them from the country. And he promised to end the payment of child benefit to youngsters living abroad.

However, Mr Cameron disappointed right-wing Tories who have been pressing for a cap on numbers of EU migrants admitted to the UK.  Instead he said he wanted to negotiated new rules on freedom of movement within the Union.

His speech came 24 hours after new figures revealed a dramatic leap in net annual migration to more than a quarter of a million, which it blames on a surge of new arrivals from the EU.

The sharp increase – one of the biggest on record – left his pledge to cut immigration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by next year’s general election in ruins.

Comments