UK PM Determined to Keep Out Bulgarians, Romanians
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested only working immigrants should be allowed into the country, even if it means undermining the EU's key principle of "free movement". Photo by EPA/BGNES
Britain will demand new restrictions to keep out benefit tourists as it fears a tidal wave of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants is about to swamp the country next year.
"Should we look at arguments about, should it be harder for people to come and live in Britain and claim benefits? Yes, frankly we should," Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.
The Prime Minister suggested only working immigrants should be allowed into the country, even if it means undermining the EU's key principle of "free movement".
He said there are already some restrictions on immigration across the EU, which could be extended when Britain seeks a new settlement with Brussels over the next few years.
Bulgarians and Romanians will gain the unrestricted right to live and work in the UK from December 2013, when temporary curbs imposed in 2005 to protect the British labor market expire.
Cameron said stopping European immigrants claiming benefits is just one of a number of areas where Britain will try to re-negotiate its relationship with the EU.
The Prime Minister said he would also like the UK to be exempt from the Working Time Directive, which restricts the number of hours people can work.
"There are lots of things we'd be better off out of," he said. "The working time directive in my view should never have been introduced in the first place because it's actually affecting things like the way we run our hospitals rather than simply about business and trade and the single market."
He said it is "perfectly acceptable" for Britain to make demands in exchange for other countries negotiating a closer union, despite fears that this will cause resentment within the EU.
Cameron said Britain is better off staying part of the EU because it must have a "seat at the table" when trading laws are being negotiated.
Asked whether the UK should leave Europe, he said: "I don't think it would be right for Britain. My policy, my approach is determined absolutely, purely, and simply by the national interest. What is right for Britain? What is right for people in work? What's right for British business? What's right for the future of our country?
"Fifty per cent of our trade is with the European Union. At the moment, because we're in this single market, we have a seat at the table in the single market, we help write those rules. If we were outside the EU altogether, we'd still be trading with these European countries but we'd have no say."
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