David Cameron takes on Ukip with promise of new measures to curb European immigration

Prime Minister promised new proposals during a visit to Rochester ahead of by-election

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Indy Politics

David Cameron has pledged to unveil new proposals soon to curb migration to Britain from other European Union countries as he tries to head off the threat from Ukip.

The Prime Minister gave his strongest hint that EU migration would be tackled, saying there was "more that we need to do" on the issue. An influx from EU countries has helped to scupper the Conservatives’ efforts to hit their target to bring annual net migration to under 100,000 by next year’s general election.

Mr Cameron was speaking during a visit to Rochester and Strood, where a by-election will be held on November 20, after Mark Reckless, the former Tory MP, defected to Ukip.

He said: "We should have one last go at negotiating a better deal with Europe. We need further action to make sure more effective control of migration." 

"We need to get back to what we thought we were joining in the first place. We don't want a European army and a European flag or European country. We live in a country called Britain - that is where it should stay - the United Kingdom," he added.

Other EU members are unlikely to water down their support for the principle of free movement. Mr Cameron is considering using other options, such as the ability of member states to apply an “emergency brake” to defend a vital national interest. This could be done without negotiating a new EU treaty. But under existing EU rules, the “brake” could be applied only after a genuine emergency such as a natural disaster. Downing Street described such a move as “speculation” .

Ed Miliband is under pressure from his own Shadow Cabinet to toughen Labour’s policy on immigration to combat Ukip. Liam Byrne, the shadow Higher Education Minister, said: “People want to hear more from Labour about issues like immigration.”

The former Immigration Minister told The House magazine: “There’s a new consensus in Britain about immigration reform. Labour needs to be the standard-bearer for that consensus. It’s an issue on which Labour can win and on which Labour needs to be self-confident, and it’s an issue which people expect political leaders to lead a conversation on.”