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30th Sep 2022

UK's Labour party takes up anti-EU migrant stance

  • Labour leader Ed Miliband: A shift to the right? (Photo: labour.org.uk)

The UK's main opposition Labour Party on Tuesday (18 November) announced plans to crack down on EU migrants amid a heated debate on in the issue across the political spectrum.

Labour wants EU nationals in Britain to be entitled to out-of-work benefits only after two years.

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The party also promised another 1,000 border guards should they win in the elections. Visiting Americans, Australians and Canadians would be charged £10 each to help cover the extra policing fees.

The move is seen as an attempt to woo voters as Labour and the governing Conservatives scramble to halt the steady advance of Ukip, the populist anti-immigrant and eurosceptic party headed by Nigel Farage.

The BBC reports Britain’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves, also wants to stop EU migrants from sending child benefits abroad.

Reeves outlined her plans on Mail Online, a right-wing tabloid, noting that the UK’s social security system “was never designed for the levels of migration we are now seeing”.

The clampdown proposals go beyond the plans set out by prime minister David Cameron who wants out-of-work EU nationals to prove they can find a job after six months on benefits or risk losing the security net.

Cameron is expected to flesh out his proposals in the next few weeks.

The battle to secure the anti-immigrant voter took off following an outcry against lifting all remaining labour restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians at the start of this year.

The debate has centred on allegations of abuse of the UK social system despite recent research that shows the arrivals paid €25 billion more in tax to the treasury than they received in welfare benefits.

But the public fears have seen Cameron threaten to restrict the free movement of people in a move widely condemned by Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel.

The German leader is reported to have said any such restriction would be a point of no return should the UK exit the EU in a possible 2017 referendum.

The domestic debate has taken on feverish pitch ahead of a key by-election in the UK on Thursday (20 November) with Ukip set to win the seat, according to the latest polls.

Meanwhile, the UK has granted more citizenships to migrants in 2012 than any other EU member state, according to the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.

The UK granted 193,900 people citizenship, the equivalent of 23.7 percent of all new citizenships in the EU member states, followed by Germany (14.0%) and France (11.7%).

But when compared to population size, Luxembourg tops the list at 8.7 citizenships granted per 1,000 inhabitants, followed by Ireland at 5.5 and Sweden at 5.3. The UK is at 3.0.

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