I don’t know why anyone would want to listen to David Cameron on Europe. His position grows less convincing by the day. I don’t for one second believe he actually thinks that reducing benefit privileges for EU migrants will actually lower immigration levels. The obvious truth is that the vast majority of people come to the UK to work. But by focusing on benefits the PM takes the attention away from the fact that there’s nothing the government can really do to reduce EU immigration. All EU members must accept freedom of movement of people, any person in any one of the 27 member states can live and work wherever they choose.
I don’t agree with Article 45 of The Maastricht Treaty, which provides this right. It is radical and has led to a significant rise in immigration to the UK over which the government has no control.
There are many things about Article 45 you might like. It is a remarkable freedom and some people relish the opportunity to move from country to country without the hassle of filling out a visa form.
But the economic benefits are spread unevenly. High levels of immigration contribute to higher housing costs as there is more demand for accommodation. This is great news if you have properties to rent out, but not so good if you’re trying to get on the ladder.
Adding more workers to the economy, of course, boosts GDP in the short term which is handy if you’re a chancellor with a big black hole in your budget. More workers is also good news if you’re the CEO of a large company – lower wages AND more customers. But if you’re one of those workers you’ve now got more competition, so mass immigration may not be in your interests.
But these are not things issues Mr Cameron wants to talk about, so instead he’ll continue to bang on about benefits.
Don’t let him distract you.