Revitalizing Global Trade: Cameron, Merkel
Cameron’s calls for even harsher immigration and welfare rules put him at odds with Germany’s Angela Merkel – and any ideas of European unity.

Natalie Bennett was spot on in slamming Friday’s immigration speech by David Cameron, in which he laid out a plan for EU change in which European migrants could be denied state benefits (including housing and tax credits) for at least four years.

While he climbed down on calling for a quota on internal EU migration – something that will annoy UKIP and the Tory right – his calls represent a perpetuation of the myth of the lazy immigrant, a key part of isolationist rhetoric. Benefits in the UK are of course significantly worse than many other EU countries.

Bennett said:

“This is a speech addressing non-existent problems – the government has not been able to produce evidence of systemic ‘benefits tourism’ or ‘health tourism’.

“We have major problems in Britain with low wages, with housing shortages and high costs, with crowded schools and hospitals. These are not caused by immigration, but by failures of government policy. An inadequate minimum wage, inadequately enforced, is a key issue.

“Another is housing policy – continuing the privatisation policy that is Right to Buy, failing to allow councils to borrow to build new council homes, encouraging runaway private sector rents.

“And the NHS needs investment, schools need to be brought back under local authority control to allow sensible planning and resource use.

“These are the issues Mr Cameron should have been talking about today to address the real needs of Britain, instead of choosing to pander to the electoral priorities of Ukip.”

Thanks to Bright Green’s Adam Ramsay for highlighting Bennett’s comments.