Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has signaled she would rather see the UK leave the EU than compromise the free movement of immigrants, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.
The UK is nearing a “point of no return,” as British Prime Minister David Cameron attempts to renegotiate the terms of the country’s EU membership targeting the freedom of movement, Merkel reportedly said.
According to the 2011 census, 579,000 Poles reside in the UK, making up under 1% of the UK population.
This tiny white minority receive enormous attention from British rightwing media and politicians, who prefer black immigrants from Africa, Muslim immigrants from Pakistan and worship the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
David Cameron’s comments that Polish migrants are taking advantage of UK benefits has sparked much anger in Poland. Poles became the target of violence and political attacks.
The prime minister, Donald Tusk, and the opposition leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski (whose party sits alongside UK Conservatives in a European parliamentary group) immediately announced that they would veto any changes in EU migration rules.
The large numbers of Polish and Czech immigrants that arrived throughout the last decade did not run the British economy into the ground.
A 2013 report from the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration found that European Union immigrants contributed more to the economy than they collected in benefits, contrary to native-born citizens.
On the whole, Polish immigrants were younger and more highly skilled than average citizens, and the majority found work in the UK.
Britain’s reaction to the Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants has been particularly strong for a number of historical and political reasons.
This was Merkel’s first hint that the UK’s exit from the union is a possibility, according to German media.
Cameron earlier said he wants to renegotiate the country’s EU membership before going through with a referendum on the subject, with the European principle of freedom of movement “at the very heart of my renegotiation strategy for Europe.”
Merkel has stressed that her support for UK membership could be reversed, if Cameron pursues migration reform.
Cameron has extended the EU laws “to their limits,” trying to turn away unemployed migrants and seeking deportation of those unable to make ends meet after three months, according to the report.
Earlier in October, the former European Commission (EC) president Jose Manuel Barroso stated that freedom of movement is an essential principle of the EU, and any plan by Britain to cap the number of migrants through the limitation of national insurance numbers would be illegal under EU law.
With next year’s general election on the horizon, British politicians are talking tougher on the issue of migrant workers. It will be the first election since the anti-immigration Independence Party (UKIP) emerged as a serious political player.
The latest opinion poll revealed that support for UKIP has reached a record high following Brussels’ recent effort to levy a mammoth £1.7 billion ($2.7 billion) extra charge on Britain. Cameron has been forced to adjust his policies to win back public support.
Cameron announced plans to reduce the number of low skilled migrant workers coming to the UK from other EU countries by limiting the number of national insurance numbers given to them.
In the recent policy shift, he said EU migrants could now only claim benefits for a maximum of three months, down from six.
These legislative changes, which apply to child tax credit, child benefits and job seeker’s allowance, will be implemented in November.
Cameron is likely to make a speech on immigration policies before Christmas, according to media reports.
Meanwhile, the EC says it endorses the principle of free movement within the EU, where citizens have the right to work and live in all member states.