Tories consider “emergency brake” on EU immigration as UKIP gains ground

The Conservatives are mulling over the idea of an “emergency brake” on immigration from EU member states, following UKIP’s rapid gains.

UKIP’s success at last week’s Clacton byelection, and the possibility of a UKIP second seat win for Tory defector Mark Reckless, at Rochester and Strood, has driven David Cameron to look at new initiatives to curb immigration.

According to the Financial Times, there is some existing framework within current EU treaties that allows members to suspend particular freedoms in emergencies, though no specific immigration directive currently exists.

However, any suspensions are usually due to emergency conditions such as war, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, rather than the movement of people – one of the key principles of the union.

In the past, Cameron has said he would like to see longer transition periods between countries becoming members and their populations gaining full labour market access, the FT reports.

Another alternative is that a quota system could be implemented to curb migrants from a particular country when they reach a certain level. Should Cameron wish to pursue this direction he is likely to find significant obstacles from other member states.

UKIP’s growing fanfare means that the Tories are keen to act fast to pacifying those questioning the government’s commitment to lowering levels of immigration.

Downing Street described reports of an “emergency brake” as “speculation”, but the idea has gained currency in senior Conservative circles over the past months, according to the FT.

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Readers' comments (5)

  • David Cameron is all talk- the EU will never agree to limit immigration you would need all 28 nations to agree & treaty change which would involve referendums in several countries. He is desperately trying to imitate UKIP and it is just an election ploy- he has had 5 years to do something and has done nothing, he has not even been able to come close to the 100,000 limit he set and used a 3 line whip against his MP's voting for an EU referendum. Desperate attempt to stop UKIP and totally transparent

    Please sign and share. Petition to release Marine A has over 90,000 signatures-
    please take 1 minute to sign it needs 100,000 to go to Parliament

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/56810

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  • Would the restriction of movement from EU countries also include persons from The Republic of Ireland?

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  • Most of us on mainland Europe are generally in agreement that Britain belongs inside the EU.
    Our "European spirit" is interpreted as EU meddling with "affairs back in Britain". Why this isolationist attitude? It still amazes me to think the country that has stood by Europe for centuries is now wondering whether it belongs inside mainstream Europe or not? We, in this case, I will put on my Belgian hat are thankful to the centuries of support both politically and military during the last +-200 years. Why would we not want Britain to be part of the EU? This is certainly not our doing.... I think the big question the British have to ask themselves... "do you feel you belong or not?" Here on mainland Europe I live in a village (just outside Brussels) totaling 23,000 inhabitants made up of more than 100 nationalities... what's the big deal? We love the British for their righteousness, culture, music, football, (maybe not so much food and beer...) However, on a serious note, you are part of Europe and you belong with us, not isolated on your islands!

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  • @Robertt
    Agree Britain does need to be part of the EU, unfortunately a lot of the things about Europe are crazy, some of the human rights, the way we have open borders from those outside the EU, we can't even kick out foreign terrorists and child killers because of their human rights.

    If Europe got sensible and was more like the UK (or Germany/Denmark then that would be good for Europe. The idea of open internal borders makes sense but not with the current status quo in the EU.

    Ask yourself why the Euro zone has been such a dramatic disaster - The blame lies directly with the more socialistic southern pats of the EU with unsustainable economic and social attitudes/policies.


    Bottom line its not the UK that needs to change but the EU. The old EFTA set up of Norway, UK etc. was perfection in co-operation and trade.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @Robertt
    Agree Britain does need to be part of the EU, unfortunately a lot of the things about Europe are crazy, some of the human rights, the way we have open borders from those outside the EU, we can't even kick out foreign terrorists and child killers because of their human rights.

    If Europe got sensible and was more like the UK (or Germany/Denmark then that would be good for Europe. The idea of open internal borders makes sense but not with the current status quo in the EU.

    Ask yourself why the Euro zone has been such a dramatic disaster - The blame lies directly with the more socialistic southern pats of the EU with unsustainable economic and social attitudes/policies.


    Bottom line its not the UK that needs to change but the EU. The old EFTA set up of Norway, UK etc. was perfection in co-operation and trade.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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