There are a multitude of problems with our relationship with the European Union, but none of these drawbacks stir the Great British Public’s anger as much as the free movement of people. A recent survey by Lord Ashcroft’s survey on public attitude to the EU – ‘Europe on Trial’ – shows 48% of people listed immigration as the major disadvantage of EU membership.
However “Cast-Iron Dave” has left immigration out of his renegotiation proposals – quite simply, because this reform is undeliverable – as will many others prove to be. The newly selected European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has already ruled out any renegotiation of the free movement of people. What purpose is there is pursuing a renegotiation when the main reason the British people are opposed to the status quo is not included?
At least Boris Johnson and Theresa May are aware of this. Both of them have been reportedly been piling pressure on Cameron. The Prime Minister has already earned the scorn of his backbenchers by abandoning his pledge to cut net migration to the tens of thousands.
Are the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary just trying to fool the voters by making the right Eurosceptic noises ahead of next year’s General Election and the potential leadership contest? Either way, the closer we get to 2015, the more obvious it becomes Cameron has no intention of tackling the serious costs our current relationship with Brussels brings.
In a meeting held by the European Commission in February, with mayors from around the European Union, Vice-President of the Commission Vivian Reding repeatedly made it clear freedom of movement, as one of the “four EU fundamental freedoms”, was inseparable from the others. She also expressed relief that none of mayors had questioned this “basic right” even though they protested about the impact of free movement in their cities, according to the minutes of the meeting.
The vast influx of Eastern European migrants which is stretching public services to breaking point while the country can barely keep up with the housing crisis, is only going to fuel the resentment of voters. Restricting benefits is clearly not enough for the Great British Public. The Eurosceptic surge will continue unabated regardless of the outcome of Cameron’s so-called ‘renegotiation’. What we know for certain is the only way to restore control over our borders and have a sensible immigration policy is to allow the voters an In/Out EU referendum and to Get Britain Out of the EU.