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.”
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.
10 things immigration has done for Britain
10 things immigration has done for Britain
1/10 The Mini
The 1959 classic, that is, perhaps our greatest piece of industrial design, a miracle of packaging and revolution in motoring. Its genius designer was Sir Alec Issigonis, who was an asylum seeker. His family, Greek, fled Smyrna when Turks invaded this borderland in around 1920, and he wound up studying engineering at Battersea Polytechnic. He went on to create that most English of motor cars, the Morris Minor, as well as the Austin-Morris 1100, all much loved products of his fertile imagination.
2/10 Marks and Spencer
Once upon a time there was no M&S in Britain, difficult as that may be to believe. We have one Michael Marks to thank for our most famous retailer, and he was a refugee from Belarus, arriving in England in about 1882, and soon after set off to flog stuff around Yorkshire. He eventually teamed with Thomas Spencer to create the vast business we know today.
And many other TV shows created, funded and otherwise produced by that largest of larger-than-life characters, Lew Grade (also a world class tap dancer). The man who dominated commercial television gave us memorable entertainment such as The Prisoner, the Saint and brought the Muppets to Britain (a sort of fuzzy felt wave of immigration), as well as puppet shows where you could see the strings. All this from a penniless Jew from Ukraine, born Lev Winogradsky, who escaped the pogroms in Ukraine with his family in the 1890s. His nephew Michael Grade has also done his bit for British television.
4/10 The House of Windsor
Or the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until George V prudently rebranded the family during the First World War. Well, our royals are a pretty German bunch, as well as having various types of French and other alien blue blood coursing around their veins. ‘Twas ever thus. There was William the Conqueror, Norman French, who certainly broke the immigration rules; William of Orange, a direct import from Holland; the Hanoverian King Georges, the first barely able to speak English; Queen Victoria, who married a German, Edward VII, who couldn’t stay faithful to his wife, a Danish princess; George V wed another German princess; Edward VIII married an American (though she hardly visited England and prompted his emigration and exile); and the Queen is married to man born in Corfu. The embodiment of the British nation, to many, but one thinks of them as quite multicultural really.
5/10 I Vow To Thee My Country
Our most patriotic hymn was the product of a man named Gustav Holst (pictured), born in Cheltenham, but of varied Swedish, Latvian and German ancestry, who adapted part of his suite The Planets to put a particularly stirring and beautiful poem to music, just after the Great War. As the second verse has it, “there's another country/I've heard of long ago/Most dear to them that love her/most great to them that know”. Imagine if the Holst family had been kept out because the quota on musical European types had been reached.
6/10 Curry and Cobra
Chicken Tikka Masala is, so they say, a dish which not only the most popular in Britain but specifically designed to cater for European tastes. For that we probably have to thank an Indian migrant, Sake Dean Mahomed, who came from Bengal to open the first recognisable Indian restaurant, the magnificently named “Hindoostanee Coffee House”. History does not record if a plate of poppadoms and accompanying selection of pickles and yoghurts were routinely placed on the table for new diners, but we do know that we had to wait until 1989 to taste the ideal lager for a curry - Cobra. That brew was brought to us by Karan (now Lord) Bilimoria, a Cambridge law graduate who hailed from Hyderabad.
7/10 That big red swirly sculpture at the Olympic Park
Or Orbit, to give it its proper name, the work of Anish Kapoor, who arrived in 1973 from India and had the artistic imagination to fill a power station.
8/10 The Sun
Love it or hate it, and many do both, this has been a symbol of much that is successful and a lot that is awful in British journalism since its inception in 1969. In its turn it spawned the Page 3 Girl and some nastily xenophobic headlines. All the stranger when you consider its creator was, of course, Rupert Murdoch, born 11 March 1931 in Melbourne, Australia.
OK, Karl Marx’s philosophy was not much of a gift to the world, but for a while it seemed like a good idea. Though we might not dare admit it, Marxism still has a few insights to offer to anyone wanting to understand the workings of capitalism, though too few to excuse everything that was done in its name. Born in Germany spent much time in the British museum and the British pub, buried Highgate Cemetery. Oddly, his ideas never really caught on in his adopted homeland.
10/10 The NHS
They came from many, many backgrounds, including Ireland, the Philippines, east Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa, as they still do, but the contribution of the black nurses who came to the UK from the Caribbean to heal and care for is a debt of honour that must be recognised. It so sometimes forgotten that it was Enoch Powell, then Minister of Health (1960-62), who campaigned to recruit their skilled nurses to come and work over here. One abiding legacy we can thank Enoch for.
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.Reuse content